In Los Angeles, a city that is home to people from some 140 countries speaking 224 languages, the Church of Scientology hosts activities, festivals and celebrations in partnership with many diverse cultures and faiths.
One such celebration was this year’s Vesak, the Buddhist festival commemorating the day the Buddha was born in 623 BCE. It also celebrates the day he achieved enlightenment and the day he died. Based on the lunar calendar, Vesak takes place each year on the day of the full moon in May.
This year, the Church of Scientology hosted a Vesak Day celebration for the Los Angeles Bangladesh community, with whom the church has partnered in interfaith and intercultural events for many years. Buddhist monks visiting from Asia led the prayer.
The afternoon was filled with music and dancing and the spicy aroma of traditional Bengali foods.
In Bangladesh, 89 percent are Muslim, and Buddhism is a minority religion of only .9 percent of the population. Unlike many other countries in South Asia, Bangladesh has a tradition of religious tolerance. There are no laws against proselytization or conversion. Religion tends to orient Bengalis, whose religious heritage helps to form their understanding of themselves as a people. Those emigrating to America from Bangladesh do so to seek greater educational and financial opportunity, rather than to escape religious intolerance.
Scientologists support interfaith and intercultural activities in keeping with the Creed of the Church of Scientology, which includes that we of the Church believe:
“That all men of whatever race, color or creed were created with equal rights.
“That all men have inalienable rights to their own religious practices and their performance.”
And the Code of a Scientologist, whereby parishioners pledge:
“To support the freedom of religion.”
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.