Here at Wildmind we’ve reported on several Buddhist organizations that have faced strenuous opposition to establishing or expanding Buddhist centers. Usually the objections are supposedly about traffic, noise (meditation being a notoriously noisy activity), and in one case, the perceived nuisance of animal sacrifice.
John Pappas, a blogger at Elephant Journal, has collated a handy list of groups that have faced such planning objections:
- Berkeley Thai Buddhist temple ~ Asian Pacific Americans for Progress
- Vietnamese Buddhist Temple (Lansing, MI) ~ The State News
- Bat Nha Meditation Institute (Los Angeles, CA) ~ LA Times
- Yuan Yung Retreat Center (Rowland Hieghts, CA) ~ Buddhist Channel
- Dau Trang Minh Dang Quang Temple (Utica, NY) ~ WickedLocal
- Cambodian Buddhist Society of Connecticut (Newtown, Conn.) ~ The Newtown Bee
- Aram Buddhist Temple (Olive Township, MI) ~ The Holland Sentinel
- Chung Tai Zen Center (Walnut, CA) ~ God Discussion
- Dai Dang Monastery (Camino del Rey, CA) ~ North County Times
- Tam-Bao Buddhist Temple (Tulsa, OK) ~ Tulsa World
- Virginia Beach Temple (Virginia Beach, VA) ~ Hampton Roads
We can add to that list a homeless Vietnamese Zen group, led by Minh Cong Nguyen, which faced planning objections in Pelahatchie, Mississippi.
As John points out, “All of these issues brought up by citizens were with primarily Asian American sanghas.” He’s been unable to find any predominately non-Asian temple or Zen Center that has been hit with the same road-blocks. That’s been my own finding as we’ve reposted news stories on Wildmind.
As John goes on to point out, the inescapable conclusion of this is that there is a pattern of racism. It seem clear that planning objections are being used by the white, Christian population’s way of keeping their areas ethnically homogenous.
There have also been some recorded incidents of vandalism at Buddhist centers. In some cases these may be simple theft or casual vandalism, but in others, such as at the Phuoc Hau Temple in South Louisville, Kentucky (see image) there’s an element of at least religious, if not outright racist, hatred.
Arun at the Angry Asian blog, started keeping a map of incidents he read about, although fortunately there are only four pins in his Google Map.
I know this has been going on for some time, but I am still saddened that this racism is still so alive and continuing. I was particularly embarrassed by the sign shown from the temple in KY. I have to admit I was partially embarrassed because of the misspelling since KY is my home of birth, but also saddened by the ignorance that prevails there and so many other places in our world. We are all connected and the anger, hate, and ignorance is just an ever growing sign of our separation from the Universe, Spirit, God, Buddha, whatever you choose to call it, it is separation from one another…Blessings to those who continue to try to bridge this gap.
This is saddening. I too live in the South and I’m familiar with racism, ignorance, as well as religious discrimination. After converting to Buddhism I was told that I would burn in hell. After becoming vegetarian, I was told that my skin would turn grey ffrom not eating meat. Yes. Grey. I think incidents like this and the above mentioned are due to lack of education, a saddening fact. We live in a global nation, and some people, due to their unfortunate upbringing, refuse to realize that.