AP/Wide World Photos. Vice President Al Gore attends a reception with Democratic fund-raiser Maria Hsia and master Hsing Yun, abbot of Hsi Lai Temple, April 1996.
AP/Wide World Photos. Vice President Al Gore attends a reception with Democratic fund-raiser Maria Hsia and master Hsing Yun, abbot of Hsi Lai Temple, April 1996.

By now, the Hsi Lai Temple in suburban Los Angeles must be the best-known Buddhist institution in the United States. But it may be headed for an even higher profile.

Last winter, while Senator Bill Bradley unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination, he brought up Hsi Lai Temple to raise questions about the integrity of Vice President Al Gore. Republican officials have strongly hinted that the temple will be mentioned again, in a new effort to embarrass Mr. Gore come this fall’s presidential campaign.

The reason for all the attention, of course, is that the fifteen-acre temple complex served as the site of a 1996 luncheon attended by the vice president, at which one of Mr. Gore’s fund-raisers arranged for contributions to be made to the Democratic National Committee in a manner that violated campaign finance laws.

As that scandal has been aired in political circles and newsmedia reports since then, Hsi Lai has usually been described simply as “the Buddhist temple,” as if there were only one.

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