Buddhism is a cult!
May 1, 2001 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Buddhism is a cult!...says Representative Arlon Lindner, a member of the Minnesota Legislature. He's mad that the Dalai Lama is going to speak before that august body.
posted by norm (50 comments total)
That is disappointing.
posted by thirteen at 12:01 PM on May 1, 2001

I hope the good people of Minnesota vote that yahoo right out of office. Anyone ignorant enough of theology to fancy buddhism a cult is most likely lacking in many other (more dangerous) areas.
posted by revbrian at 12:11 PM on May 1, 2001

That's pretty seriously messed up.
posted by muppetboy at 12:15 PM on May 1, 2001

"Local Politician in 'Fuckwit' Shocker"

``They believe in evolution and reincarnation,'' he said. ``That is not Christian.''

Quite. Note that the piece ends with a comment from Robert Thurman. Yep, one of the advantage of reporting Buddhist stories in the US is that you get to chat to Uma's dad.
posted by holgate at 12:16 PM on May 1, 2001

It takes one (cult) to know one. All religions (belief in what is NOT there) are cultish activities.
posted by tenbroeck at 12:17 PM on May 1, 2001

What is a cult?
Check out this page on the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance site, which explains that depending on who uses it and in what context, "cult" can mean "small religious group that differs from the norm", "heretical religion", or even "mind control religious group".
posted by CrunchyFrog at 12:18 PM on May 1, 2001

``They believe in evolution and reincarnation,'' he said. ``That is not Christian.''

The Catholic church (a major religion, I'd say) has no problem with evolution and has at its core a belief is rising from the dead. You can't spell Christian without Christ. You can't spell Catholic without Cat.
posted by tenbroeck at 12:20 PM on May 1, 2001

Buddhism is a creationist faith. As a matter of fact, all "standard issue" religions are "creationists." They do believe in reincarnation, but you can halt being reincarnated if you achieve nirvana.

I think the legislature should raise the education budget. Too many idiots are in the system running the system.
posted by tamim at 12:21 PM on May 1, 2001

Gee, he doesn't look like a crazy right-wing Hoyt-Axton look-alike...
posted by jpoulos at 12:23 PM on May 1, 2001

Raising the education budget will do what, exactly?
posted by tenbroeck at 12:23 PM on May 1, 2001

I shouldn't stereotype...sorry.
posted by jpoulos at 12:23 PM on May 1, 2001

"That is not Christian.''

Well, duh!

Just the other day my boss sent out an e-mail asking if anyone knew of a book that compared "all the religions". I sent him a recommendation, and he replied "I meant Christian religions."

posted by briank at 12:26 PM on May 1, 2001

He might want to stop wacking people over the head with his bible long enough to read Luke 9[50] And Jesus said unto him, "Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us"
posted by revbrian at 12:27 PM on May 1, 2001

I'm sure if Mahatma Gandhi were alive today, he'd also be forbidden from speaking before the Minnesota Legislature for his "cult" beliefs.

It's a shame that ignorant people can reach positions of power.
posted by turaho at 12:34 PM on May 1, 2001

I'm guessing that Representative Arlon Lindner would be against Buddhists getting any of those "Faith Based" dollars.
posted by the_ill_gino at 12:36 PM on May 1, 2001

Amother fine quote from Lindner's greatest hits: Lawmakers were considering whether to lift a year-old rule requiring all prayers to be nondenominational and respectful to "the religious diversity of the House."

In arguing to allow religion-specific prayers, Lindner last month [last year] told Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, who is Jewish, "Most of us here are Christians. And we shouldn't be left not able to pray in the name of our God. ... And if you don't like it, you may have to like it. Or just don' t come. ... But don't impose your irreligious left views on me."

posted by norm at 12:36 PM on May 1, 2001

this is my favorite quote: "These beliefs are incompatible with Christian principles, and those Christian principles are or have been the governing principles in American society,'' Lindner said in the e-mail."

...christian principles... governing principles...

well... so much for the constitution...
posted by bliss322 at 12:39 PM on May 1, 2001

It's OK, just run Arlon Lindner's name through the Mr. T name generator and you'll see that we can safely ignore him.
posted by john at 12:39 PM on May 1, 2001

Huh....The Dalai Lama better watch out.... we all know what our country likes to do to cults....
posted by bradth27 at 12:52 PM on May 1, 2001

This guy has been added to my long list of why I'm ashamed to be a white christian american.
posted by auzten at 1:05 PM on May 1, 2001

Then there was the leader of a Christian Church who stated that they only group they thought SHOULDN'T get faith-based funding were Wiccans.... I just think it's fascinating to see where people draw their lines, and what happens when they interact with other people who have drawn DIFFERENT lines.
posted by thunder at 1:08 PM on May 1, 2001

His karma's already catching up with him.
posted by Pokeyman at 1:16 PM on May 1, 2001

Thank you norm, that's got to be the saddest and at the same time funniest thing I've read all week.

Can't we just fire all these idiots? You know, on friday, as they check the mail, there's a pink slip, 'you've been laid off'
posted by tiaka at 1:19 PM on May 1, 2001

Speaking as one of Mefi's resident Buddahs, I know that it isn't easy to finally decide what you're going to believe in. After years of talking to the friends I've made in various religions, I eventually came to the conclusion that everyone is right - in their own way.

The most important thing in all this is faith. A faith in something. How that faith is expressed is up to the individual making a choice. Whether to keep their faith personal and express their respect in their own way, or to join a group who happen to have a method of worship they agree with so that they can share the experience.

But it definately isn't up to someone from one of these groups pointing a finger to another and saying 'You're just not doing it right!' or 'You don't count because you're not like us.' How do they know?
posted by feelinglistless at 1:22 PM on May 1, 2001

The man obviously would never pick up the Dalai Lama'a "Ethics for the New Millennium", but if he had, he would know how well the Dalai Lama can encourage some one to be a better christian.
The best part is that the Dalai Lama's feelings will not be hurt by this. It's just another tree falling in the forest. Unfortunately, we heard this one.
posted by hippo at 1:29 PM on May 1, 2001

A little off-topic, but:

what the heck is a DFLer?

I assume it's a political party. But is a DFLer a member of the DFL party, or is DFLer the name of the party, or what?

I love looking at local papers on the web, but sometimes the in-speak is difficult.
posted by idiolect at 1:54 PM on May 1, 2001

As a voter who lives in Minnesota; I will give my all in trying to remove this man (or parisite if you will) from his office.

my 1st step in accomplishing this is letting you all know where you can voice your opinion to him


or better yet, visit this page and use the info to your advantage.
posted by Qambient at 1:57 PM on May 1, 2001

In Minnesota, the Democratic party merged some years ago with the Farmer and the Labor parties, thus making the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party (and members thereof DFLers). Until recently, the Republican party wasn't particularly jazzed to be associated with the rightist kneebiters within the national Republican party either, so they had themselves designated as Independent Republicans (IR). Picking out your reps as (DFL) and (IR) is a little more interesting than (D) and (R). Unfortunately, the Republicans made their peace with the national party and are boring old (R)s again.
posted by norm at 2:00 PM on May 1, 2001

The scariest part of this is that the man spewing this illogical and ignorant garbage has an M.Div. You'd think that at some point in seminary that he would've been taught a little better!
posted by Dreama at 2:03 PM on May 1, 2001

one of my favorite quotes from the Dalai Lama

"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."

-[Dalai Lama]
posted by Qambient at 2:05 PM on May 1, 2001

"Buddhism is a creationist faith."

Huh? This doesn't sounds right at all. The Buddha specifically gave no teachings about the origins of the universe (saying that it was pointless to speculate about it, if I recall correctly) and Buddhist teachings frequently reference "beginningless time".

It's possible I missed something, of course. If so, perhaps you would be so kind as to provide a reference to this Buddhist creationist doctrine?
posted by muppetboy at 2:12 PM on May 1, 2001

I just think it's fascinating to see where people draw their lines, and what happens when they interact with other people who have drawn DIFFERENT lines.

I agree, and I confess that a small part of me wants to see Bush's faith-based agendum pass--just so I can watch the country duke it out over which religions are "real".
posted by jpoulos at 2:14 PM on May 1, 2001

The scariest part of this is that the man spewing this illogical and ignorant garbage has an M.Div.

The scariest part to me is that he and I went to the same school (the University of North Texas).
posted by rcade at 2:18 PM on May 1, 2001

Muppetboy, There's a tantra called "The King Who Created Everything" (Kunjed Gyalpo), although this can be misinterpreted because it refers to our pure nature, not an all-powerful omniscient God who created everything. Not that tamim got his comment from there, but for the record, Buddhism is not creationist.

Creationist: a doctrine or theory holding that matter, the various forms of life, and the world were created by God out of nothing and usually in the way described in Genesis. (Webster)

Reality is also referred to as unborn in many Buddhist texts.

By the way, tenbroeck, Buddhism recognizes emptiness, so it is fundamental to not believe in what is not there. (Heart Sutra)
posted by mblandi at 2:31 PM on May 1, 2001

Pardon me, Creates Everything
posted by mblandi at 2:35 PM on May 1, 2001

It's funny that we think he's insane for considering buddhism a cult, and not becuase he believes a guy magically turned water into wine.
posted by Doug at 2:36 PM on May 1, 2001

The Buddha specifically gave no teachings about the origins of the universe (saying that it was pointless to speculate about it, if I recall correctly)

Wow. I did not know that about Buddhism. Could it actually be that there's a religion that makes some kind of sense?
posted by kindall at 3:14 PM on May 1, 2001

Muppetboy, you’re right — the Buddha never gave an origin story for that reason. Most schools of buddhism believe the cycle of life, death and rebirth occurs for everything, including the universe. In an unknowable number of kalpa (an imperceptibly long time) the universe will die, a few kalpa later it’ll be reborn. This merry-go-round won’t ever stop until the individual reaches enlightenment.

You could be reading this Metafilter post on the first Earth, or the two millionth Earth. In the same vein, this could be your first life or your two millionth. Buddhism teaches it will all happen again, for eternity, until reaching enlightenment.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 3:52 PM on May 1, 2001

The Buddha specifically gave no teachings about the origins of the universe (saying that it was pointless to speculate about it, if I recall correctly)

Wow. I did not know that about Buddhism. Could it actually be that there's a religion that makes some kind of sense?


If you have some faith and believe in reincarnation, I think the Dharma makes a good deal of sense. But even if you don't, there's a lot of good practical advice in there as well. I go to a general class with talks on "Buddhist Psychology" that has made tremendous sense to me and been of great value... although in a fairly secular kind of way.
posted by muppetboy at 3:59 PM on May 1, 2001

briank, could you share your recommendation (only because I think that would be some interesting reading...)
posted by benjh at 4:52 PM on May 1, 2001

"A History of God" by Karen Armstrong is an interesting history of the three major Western religions -- Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. As someone more interested in history than religious studies, it appealed to me because it did a good job of showing how intertwined all three of them are. Sure, it doesn't really meet the "all religions" request I thought my boss was asking for, but it covers a fair chunk of ground, and it seemed like a good starting place for him.
posted by briank at 5:47 PM on May 1, 2001

muppetboy: "perhaps you would be so kind as to provide a reference to this Buddhist creationist doctrine?"

Many concepts within Buddhism grew from Brahmanism. It is true that Buddha himself never spelled out how universe began. Most likely that is due to his reliance on Brahmanism to explain such things. (Hinduism/Brahmanism is not an "evolutionist" faith.)

I think the point I was trying to make was that Buddhism is not an "evolutionism"/Darwinism faith. Living beings in Buddhism do not evolve and adapt according to their environment. A fully "evolved" human being can just as easily be reborn as a fish without any outside influence from the environment. (A scientific impossibility in Darwinism.)

The concepts of "God" is also pretty complex in Buddhism. Just being reborn into the heavens as "Dev" does not make a being a deity. Devs too get recycled. A recyclable god can not be the "creator" of all. He has to be greater than that. (Hinduism/Brahmanism explains how the universe was created. Possibly Buddha subscribed to that answer and never bothered to ponder it any further.) To Buddha the destination (Nirvana) was more important than the origin.

I think in my attempt to run away from evolution, I jumped at the first alternative, creationism. Maybe at some level, Buddhism is neither.


tenbroeck: "Raising the education budget will do what, exactly?"

I was hoping that it would at least generate funding for better text books and better teachers so that kids in 2001 did not grow up with ignorant views of other faiths. Then again, I am not so sure if allocating more money for school districts are the same as spending more money in the class rooms. After the Kansas school district debacle, I am not sure if the money allocated would be spent in comprehensive education or just furthering ignorant propaganda.

I was just hoping, just maybe, having that extra money would inspire someone to spend on actual education.

Maybe I should've said the Buddhist should spend more money in TV advertising. "Buddhism - the other major religion."


I second benjh request for briank's reading list.
posted by tamim at 7:10 PM on May 1, 2001

Huston Smith wrote the book on "all the religions."
posted by sudama at 7:19 PM on May 1, 2001

Buddhism is the FARTHEST thing from a cult. The Buddha taught that we should question all doctrines, even his own. He taught that we should look into things for ourselves, not blindly accept what we are told. Buddhism is about developing a deep understanding of the world around us and the interconnections between all things. This understanding leads to compassion.
posted by fieldswn at 7:24 AM on May 2, 2001

benjh and tamin, see above, but I'm going to check out sudama's link, too.
posted by briank at 7:38 AM on May 2, 2001

I think the people who say our government was founded on Christian principles need to look at their history books a little closer. Christian morality doubtless influenced them (and all of, well, Western Civilization), but I'd say the founders were more influenced by the secular thought of the Enlightenment. When you see a respect for Christianity is people like Franklin who respect its ability to instill morality, work ethic, etc.; I think they'd have respected a leader from another religion whose political acomplishments have been awarded with an honor like the Nobel Peace Prize.
posted by dagnyscott at 8:03 AM on May 2, 2001

Couple of things: First: Buddhism, like many religions, runs the gamut as far as its permutations over the centuries. Original Buddhism is mostly nondoctrinal and atheistic. It has acquired many layers of doctrine over the years to suit its believers. So there may be some Buddhist cults out there. But it is no more likely, and some might say less, likely than Christianity to spawn cults.
Second: Hey, what do you expect from some guy who got a masters degree in divinity, whatever the hell that is, from some lame Baptist Theological Seminary in MN. That in itself should bar him from serving in the legislature. This guy obviously must have sleeping during World Religion class. He doesn't know shit!
posted by SteveS at 8:09 AM on May 2, 2001

For those arriving late to this thread, the fixed link is here.
posted by argybarg at 11:57 AM on May 2, 2001

Bob Jones would definitely approve of this guy. Not that I would intimate that Bob Jones and some to remain nameless Republikan Presidential candidates would be on the same page as this guy.... Expect to see more divinity grads to express similar attitudes. Never let it be said that you cannot serve both God (power and money) and the interests of multinational corporations. Don't believe it? Just ask Jerry and Pat (Falwell and Robertson.)
posted by nofundy at 12:11 PM on May 2, 2001

Also read the longer and more in-depth Minneapolis Star-Tribune coverage of this story.
posted by SenshiNeko at 1:43 PM on May 2, 2001

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