Saturday, December 23, 2006

Uh Oh! Buddhists Coming in Under the Radar

Virgil Goode of Virginia is not paying attention. There is a threat to our "values and beliefs" that is twice as large as the one posed by Keith Ellison the Democrat from Minnesota. There is only one Muslim in the new congress but there are two Buddhists. Oh My God! Hawaii's Mazie Hirono and Hank Johnson of Georgia, both Democrats and both Buddhist. Don't you find it strange the Congressman Goode is so blithely ignoring these two? Congressman Goode seems unconcerned about the Buddhist threat to American "values."

The Boston Globe editorializes:

What part of "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" does congressman Virgil Goode not understand?

Goode, a Virginia Republican, displayed his contempt for the US Constitution in a letter he sent to constituents this month, criticizing the first Muslim elected to Congress for planning to use a ceremonial Koran instead of a Bible to swear his oath of office in January. In the letter, Goode writes that the election of Keith Ellison , Democrat of Minnesota, represents a threat to traditional American "values and beliefs."...

In the 1980s, Massachusetts legislator Barbara Hildt, an Amesbury Democrat, would decline to swear the oath of office with her 159 fellow House members every two years. Her Quaker faith prohibited it, so she "affirmed" her allegiance in a separate ceremony. The Commonwealth did not crumble.

Indeed, the entering 110th Congress will feature more religious diversity than ever, with not just the first Muslim but the first two Buddhists: Hawaii's Mazie Hirono and Hank Johnson of Georgia, both Democrats. Strangely, Congressman Goode seems unconcerned about the Buddhist threat to American "values."

He should be more worried about the Buddhists. At least Muslims believe in the same God, more or less, as the Christians. We Buddhists do not "believe" generally in a god who wants to take over government and act through the GOP. We are the "Godless" ones.

Hank Johnson of Georgia became a Buddhist some 30 years ago and is affiliated with Soka Gakkai International, which has been evangelizing to African Americans, and yes, Johnson's not only among the first 2 Buddhists elected, but he's also. you guessed it, the first African-American Buddhist elected! Soka Gakkai is normally associated with right wing politics in Japan. That is not true in America though, Tina Turner, SG's most well-known practitioner is a not a right wing conservative by any stretch of the imagination.

It will be interesting to see what the two Buddhists use to take their oath of office with if Ellison has chosen the Koran. Maybe Nichiren's writings - or the Lotus Sutra? If I were a betting man I'd guess the latter.

Mazie Hirono is a member of Jodo Shu Buddhism, a sect whose general form is the largest sect in Japan, and Hawaii.

To my way of thinking I would welcome even more Buddhists into Congress. If they are following the path and are serious students we could do a whole lot worse. We sure as hell wouldn't be in Iraq right now and wouldn't be spending more on the military and defense than all the rest the world combined if there were more of the Buddha's teachings followed. My guess is that our government would be a lot more compassionate.

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