WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of State has removed a reference to a “buddhist religion” from a website that contains information about its global religions, citing a recent increase in the use of the term “bungs”.
The State Department removed the website, www.worldreligions.org, from its website and removed all references to the term in an email to staff Tuesday, a State Department spokeswoman said.
The term is now “a common term used by many religious organizations around the world to describe a wide variety of religions and religions from around the globe,” the spokeswoman said in the email.
The website had been accessible since August, when the State Department said the term was being used more frequently and as an acronym.
The State Office of Global Religious Freedom had previously used the term as a reference point for countries to “provide accurate information about their religious populations.”
In a blog post on Wednesday, the State department said that it had decided to remove the reference to Buddhism as a religion from the website because of a “growing trend in the international community to define religion by terms of categories, rather than words.”
The State department says there are more than 2,400 religions around the planet, and that it has identified more than 6,000 new religions in recent years.
The agency has not identified a religion that is losing faith, and instead says it is “seeking to improve its understanding of the worldwide religions” and to promote dialogue among faiths.
The term is “increasingly used in discussions of religions in the global arena” and is used to describe religions that do not have a global leadership body, the agency says.