Negative Impression of Priests Due to Money?Survey by Hongwanji-ha Research Institute
The research institute of Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, a sect headquartered at Nishi Hongwanji Temple, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, reported its questionnaire result. It concluded that the amount of monetary offerings and priests' financial sense caused negative impressions of temples and priests, shedding light on the long-standing delicate relation between priests and money again.
The research institute realized that, recently, the roles of priests, temples and funerals have been in question more than ever, so they have been conducting questionnaires since last year, in order to discover if people have positive or negative impressions about Buddhism, temples and priests, as well as the causes. They surveyed participants, including funeral directors, religiously-affiliated people and general attendees, of the "Life Ending Industry EXPO" held in Tokyo and Osaka last year. The institute received 2,221 responses.
Responses were on a five-point scale as to respondents' positive or negative impressions of Buddhism, temples and priests respectively. The average scores were 4.1 for Buddhism, 3.8 for temples and 3.5 for priests. The results show that many respondents had a positive image of Buddhism, while their impressions about temples and priests were not as high.
In response to a question regarding the reason for a negative impression about temples, most respondents indicated the amount of monetary offerings and donations. In regards to negative impressions of priests, the most common answer cited was "their attitude toward people," followed by "their financial sense." Some cited their "lack of competence in giving sermons."
In response to a question about factors that cause a negative impression of Buddhism, 25 percent of the respondents said "priests." After classifying the answer by respondent type, it could be seen that religiously-affiliated people themselves chose this answer much more than funeral directors or general attendees, revealing a low "self-evaluation" among priests.(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)