I have sympathy for the Christian woman who is protesting the decorative Buddha statues that are being used in her father’s nursing home.
If I was staying in a non-religious nursing home, I would not be comfortable being surrounded by crucifixes, or statues of Christ or the Virgin Mary. If it was a religious nursing home, then fine, but it seems inappropriate to have religious displays used in non-religious settings.
The general manager, Mr. Adey, said “She’s confusing decorative Asian items with a religious message.” For Buddhists, Buddha statues are not “decorative Asian items” but are symbols of spiritual awakening, and reminders of the historical Buddha, just as for Christians, statues of Christ are symbols reminding them of God and his son’s sacrifice. Arguably, using Buddha images as “decorative Asian items” is a misuse of religious imagery. The topic of Buddhist ideas or imagery in the marketing or production of (usually non-Buddhist) services and consumables is one that Rod Meade Sperry takes up in his well-known “Dharma-burger” site.
Not having seen pictures of the Buddha statues, however, there’s one related matter I’d like to comment on: a lot of what people think are “Buddha statues” are actually statues of Hotei — those “fat-bellied Buddhas” aren’t actually Buddhas at all! Hotei is more like Santa Claus, so confusing Hotei with the Buddha is akin to thinking that Santa is Christ.
Herald Sun: A Christian woman is demanding a nursing home in South Australia remove decorative Buddhist statues, saying they are “stressful” for Christian residents including her 89-year-old father-in-law.
Ruth Thompson, of Vista, has lodged a complaint with the ACH Group’s Highercombe aged care home in Hope Valley, which opened late last year.
At least half a dozen statues of Buddha, about 60cm tall, adorn communal areas, Mrs Thompson says.
“We’re so agitated and annoyed about it,” she told the Leader Messenger last week.
“It’s very stressful for the older people to see this sort of thing.
“We are committed Christians and we don’t want Buddhist statues in our faces all the time.”
However, ACH Group general manager of residential services Greg Adey said there had been no other complaints from the more than 60 residents or their families.
Mr Adey said the statues were purely decorative and would not be removed.