According to the Venerable S. Dhammika the Asian Theravada laity is only concerned with making merit. That is, ensuring a good rebirth for themselves by making donations to the monks. They grow up being taught that the maximum amount of merit is to be had by giving to monks, so few make donations or do volunteer work for others. The rest of the time, outside of holidays the laity is unconcerned about Buddhism. They do not read the suttas. They do not meditate. They are discouraged from doing so by the monks. They believe both things are not for ordinary people, but only for monks.
Many monks are also unfamiliar with the suttas and do not meditate. In fact if a monk chooses to meditate they will not get any encouragement and even some discouragement as it makes other monks look bad. Many monks go into the Sangha as children, out of poverty and leave after they get a college education paid for by dana from the laity. The ones who stay experience a life time of being waited on hand and foot by the community. The monks become spoiled and narcissitic, caring only about their whims to use dana money to put up buildings and statues that people don't need and often when there is a lot of poverty in the surrounding area. The monks often get big egos demanding huge amounts of respect and demanding to be catered to. Often the Buddhist community in Asia will sacrifice on essentials to their own families to give dana to monks who already have an excess of what they need or could want. This happens because of the aforementioned belief in merit making. For monks the most important thing is following the vinaya, and most could care less about the dhamma, even if they knew about it.
Myself and my fellow foreign monk here at our temple have often felt somewhat ostracised by the other monks and novices because we stress the importance of meditation......and do our best to keep the Vinaya. The Thai monks and novices (who see the monks as an example to follow) often are lax with the vinaya..... not bothering to go out on alms-round; eating after mid-day.....
They often have school groups come on dhamma camps to stay for a few nights and days, and are taught by the Thai monks. They only teach them morality....to be good and hope to go to heaven...and maybe scare them with images about hells.
All religions teach us to be good, which gives the good results of a favourable rebirth, but only the Buddha
's dhamma teaches to escape Samsara and that requires understanding of the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path...and the practice of them. Because these monks do not practice themselves they can hardly teach others what they do not know or believe. They only perfunctoraly teach anything about meditation, including walking meditation which is taught like it is some fun little game since the monks themselves never do it anyway. A ten day Vipassana retreat is a part of their teachers course, which as we know isn't even a real retreat but just a taster....and based upon this they then go out and teach it!!!!
They know I want to teach the kids some real Dhamma, but am not encouraged or allowed, perhaps because the thai monks will then get questioned upon things they themselves do not know. Although Anatta is meant to be at the heart of every Buddhist, Asians, including the monks, are still very much obsessed with 'face'.
Many Thai monks think that because they are born into buddhism they must automatically know more about it than any farang monk, and although we often get admiring comments from the thai laity about our knowledge the same doesn't happen with the thai monkhood. We foreigners have mostly changed from our original religion we were brought up in to buddhism so have done some study. Thais who convert to christianity probably read the Bible, something I never did even though I was brought up as a Catholic.