Americans Don’t Approve of Buddhists?

Michael McAlister Blog 9 Comments

Maybe this is because it’s so hard to market “stillness,” “Suchness,” and “Emptiness.”

At least 2 million Buddhists currently practice their religion in the United States, and many of their fellow citizens disapprove. A survey conducted by political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell, coauthors of American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us 2010, endeavored to determine how Americans perceive the nation’s major religions and found that Buddhists rank second to last, above only Muslims, writes James Coleman in Buddhadharma Fall 2011.

via Bad Buddhist Vibes — Emerging Ideas — Utne Reader.

Comments 9

  1. Patrick

    Just a guess, but if I ONLY used television and cultural stereotypes as sources of information, I’d probably picture a “buddhist” as someone who is likely “new-agey,” a flighty hipster (aplolgies to the hippies), wears red and yellow robes, is vegan or vegetarian, atheist, extremely liberal, chants daily in foreign languages while lighting incense, wears a mala, buys only organic, and prays to some fat deity while rubbing his belly for good luck.

    Am I forgetting anything? πŸ˜‰

    The deeply philosophical, psychologically grounded, curios brave souls who sit and investigate the very nature of mind and human experience, I have found, is not what people picture when they think of “Buddhists.” HOWEVER, as Buddhism aligns with science, this stereotype is slowly changing.

    Isn’t this why “the buddhist community” is asking the big question: “what is the emerging Western Buddhism?” and keeping it an open question?


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      So well put, Patrick.
      On some level, this still kinda’ comes down to a misconception rooted in Buddhism’s lack of attachment to any kind of public relations or marketing. At least that’s the way I see it.

  2. Patrick

    Speaking of religious marketing, have you seen the catholic church’s new TV commercials? Yeah, you heard me right. πŸ™‚

    We need one of these. πŸ™‚

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