Does Buddhism Have a Race Problem?
This Saturday, December 8 Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day, a holiday that marks the day that Siddartha Gautauma received enlightenment. A recent Huffington Post article about the rift between white American Buddhist converts and Asian American (and other people of color) practitioners of the faith sparked a lot of discussion about who exactly are Buddhists and how does race affect how their beliefs are acted out? But Arun at Angry Asian Buddhist takes issue with some of the points in the Huff Po piece:
First, the numbers are wrong. Kaleem repeats figures from the Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey that “[American] Buddhism is made up largely of white converts, who count for more than half of U.S. Buddhists; less than one in three are Asian.” These figures struck many as surprising back when the survey was published, and after closer inspection it turns out the numbers were off. As I have pointed out, the Pew study estimated the number of Asian Americans to be half the U.S. Census’ estimate for 2007, thus undercounting the number of Asian American Buddhists.