Reposted with permission from Kyle over at The Reformed Buddhist
The Federal government has announced its intentions to bulldoze a small Tibetan Buddhist Stupa near the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico after the National Park Service seized the land using the power of eminent domain to build an outdoor amphitheater. This comes on the heels of a similar case, when earlier this year the US Supreme Court voted in a 5-4 decision (Salazar v. Buono) to save a Christian Cross residing on NPS land inside the Mojave desert, after the NPS denied a Buddhist organization request to build a small Stupa near the Cross. In yet another similar case in 2006 (Paulson v. City of San Diego), President George W Bush signed into law an act of eminent domain to save another Christian Cross residing on public land inside the City ofSan Diego, after the US Court of Appeals had ordered the Cross to be dismantled, stating the violation of both the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the No Preference Clause in the California Constitution.
Yesterday, I was unable to reach anyone in the National Park Service Headquarters that was willing to give any comment on their plans or reasoning behind bulldozing the Stupa. Certainly, if the Federal government is willing to use the very powerful tool of eminent domain to save a Christian Cross residing on public land, its actions in New Mexico bring up very important Constitutional questions of its endorsement of religion given its willingness to use the same powers to bulldoze a symbol of another religion. The first amendment of the US Constitution strictly forbids the United States government to “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The question has to be raised, is there an attempt to establish a de facto ‘official’ religion in the United States, as demonstrated by the actions of several govermental agencies the over the past 5 years? Ken Salazar, the Secretary for the Department of the Interior, which runs the National Park Service, has been eerily quiet about these actions, as has the Obama administration. Unquestionably, the volunteer caretakers of the Stupa have been more than willing to work with the NPS to preserve the Buddhist symbol within the confines of its amphitheater plans, however, any attempts to open dialogue have been met with no success. One of the ongoing advertising campaigns of the NPS has been “Get Involved!”; I suppose they only wish those to get involved if they are indeed Christian.
If you would like to help save the New Mexico Buddhist Stupa please visit Digital Tibetan Alter for more information.