I can’t guess at how many Americans would support or oppose the building of a Buddhist temple in Walnut, California, but I do know that someone there in high places is against it. And the US government isn’t too happy about it. The AP reports:
LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Justice Department has filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against the Southern California city of Walnut, claiming it unfairly denied a permit to a group seeking to build and run a Buddhist center.
The lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles seeks a court order saying the city violated federal law and an injunction to prohibit Walnut officials from discriminating against the Chung Tai Zen Center and other religious organizations.
Federal officials say Walnut denied the center’s application in January 2008 and had not done that to any other religious group that sought a conditional use permit since at least 1980.
The city manager did not immediately return a phone message.
I know, I know, it’s not Park 51, but what’s going on in this country?
A little bit about Walnut: It’s a city of just over 32,000 in Los Angeles County. 57% of its population is described as “Asian,” 22% of whom are Filipino. 26% are Caucasian; 4% African-American; 2% Hispanic; and 9% “other” (I never know what to make of “other,” but there are nearly 3,000 of them). Walnut is a prosperous town, with a median household income of nearly $90,000 and a median home price of $664,662. Its commitment?
“Our mission is to exceed expectations of the people of Walnut. We collaborate with the community to enhance our civic pride.”
From the picture above I see it rests in the shadow of snow-peaked mountains and it boasts 26 miles of hiking and equestrian trails. Originally the domain of the Shoshone (maybe they’re still lying low and described themselves as “other”), the area eventually fell under the jurisdiction of the San Gabriel Mission. Nowadays it sounds like suburban nirvana. Well, almost. All it lacks is a Buddhist temple.
If you’re a citizen of Walnut, please visit the temple as soon as it’s built. I don’t think the US Department of Justice is going to lose this one, but cheer up—your suffering is about to come to an end!
UPDATE: Sleuthing web editor Phil Ryan reports that Money magazine deemed Walnut the “best place to live in California.” It’ll get even better once that temple’s up and running.