Video - Protesters converge on Elk Grove Buddhist temple, alleged proposed monastery being funded by foreign goverment

October 7, 2018 |  

A large group of protesters converged near a Buddhist temple in Elk Grove to protest what they say is a foreign government funding a proposed monastery. 

The hour-long protest (see video below), on the morning of Sunday, October 7, started at 10 a.m. and was held in front of the Chua Hoang Phab Buddhist temple on Halfway Road in the city's rural Sheldon area. The protesters, who were mostly Vietnamese-Americans allege the monastery being sought is being funded by the Community party and the government of Vietnam.  

The temple is affiliated with the Chua Hoang Phab order which has 33 temples worldwide, including Vietnam. The Abbot and Master of the order is Thich Chan Tinh, who is based in Vietnam but is currently visiting the Elk Grove temple.

The protesters, many of whom fled Vietnam after the 1975 collapse of the South Vietnamese government wore army uniforms. Along with flying the American flag, many also carried the South Vietnamese flag.

The controversy over the proposed 100-bed monastery surfaced during the Thursday, October 4 meeting of the Elk Grove Planning Commission. At that meeting, people who identified themselves as refugees from Vietnam accused the temple of being funded by the Communist Party in Vietnam.

Many of the people participating in the protest said they did not want the influence of the Communist party spreading into the United States. Many portrayed the order as a Trojan horse type operation that is seeking to spread Communist philosophy in America, especially among Vietnamese-American youth.

"I would like to tell the government to stop building," Quyet Dao said. "Communist are not good for the United States."

When asked for the source of their information, many of the respondents said they heard it on social media and from personal contact. One person displayed a list of the Hoang Phab temples and monasteries, which included a listing for the Elk Grove facility.

Among the protesters in military regalia was Daniel Nguyen, who said he was a major in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. After the fall of South Vietnam in April 1975, Nguyen was imprisoned for seven years and said the temple is not as it appears.

"I was put in prison in a forest of North Vietnam," Nguyen said. "They are not Buddish, they are communist." 

Echoing those sentiments was Tim Do, who was one of the organizers for the gathering.

"We are protecting the Vietnamese community," Do said. "This is a Vietnam communist temple."

The protest was organized for Sunday morning to coincide with a planned stone setting ceremony. A letter by a group calling themselves the Next Generation of the Republic of Vietnam notified the neighbors of the protest.

Upon learning of the planned protest, the ceremony was moved to an undisclosed location on Sunday morning. The protest dispersed shortly after 11:15 am, and a small group of the temple members gathered outside the temple for about an hour starting at 1 p.m. 

On Saturday Temple leader Tihn said through an interpreter said they are not affiliated with the Communist party or the Vietnamese government and expressed the belief that situation was a misunderstanding.  Tihn also noted the Hoang Phab temple follow the teachings of internationally known Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

A temple spokesperson said a student of Master Thich Chan Tinh, Mr. Ma Dat, reportedly bought the 10-acre parcel in 2017 for just under $1 million and donated it to the temple and for the proposed monstery. Like Tinh, Dat also denied that that funding for the temple and the monastery came from the Vietnamese government or the communist party.

"I paid for this with my own money," Dat said. "The master does not have any relation with Vietnam."

According to information posted on the City of Elk Grove's website, in November 2017 the temple applied for their business license as Hoang Phap Buddhist Monastery International with an address in Sacramento. A video titled "Hoang Phab Monstery 3D model" was posted on YouTube on December 24, 2017, showing a possible model for a monastery, although it was not known at posting time if this was the plan for the proposed Elk Grove facility.

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1 comment

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Confucius say, "can city staff stall the building permit until after the election"?

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