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The Institute of Buddhist Studies would like to thank all the panelists, participants, and guests who made the 2010 Buddhism Without Borders Conference such a wonderful success!

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Buddhism without Borders: Contemporary Developments of Buddhism in the West

at the Institute of Buddhist Studies
Berkeley, California
March 18 - 21, 2010

Panel II: Buddhisms in America, 9:30 - 12:30

Buddha in Mormon Land: American Buddhist Challenges in a Dominant Mormon Culture

Charles S. Prebish, Redd Chair in Religious Studies, Utah State University

This paper will present the results of my professional investigations of Buddhist communities in Utah between January 2007 and January 2010. My paper will begin with an introductory section on the history of Buddhist communities in Utah, including a short discussion of the internment of Japanese American Buddhists in Utah during World War II. The main body of the paper will focus on the development of more than two dozen current ethnic, convert, and hybrid Buddhist communities amidst an overwhelming and dominant Mormon culture. Because of the complete Mormon religious dominance in Utah, and the uniqueness of the LDS Church, these Buddhist communities face challenges unlike those encountered elsewhere in North America. In discussing these challenges to the Utah Buddhist communities, particular attention will be given to the vibrant Buddhist Churches of America community (with three churches in Utah); and to the highly developed Kanzeon Sangha in Salt Lake City, headed by Dennis Genpo Merzel Rōshi, one of the late Taizan Maezumi Rōshi's Dharma heirs. The paper will conclude with some creative comments looking ahead into the future of Budduhsim in Utah.

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