Land Rights and Religion

Alan Miller's article Aug. 1, "Soka Catches Park Supporters Off Guard," seemed to be a simple statement of facts, but I found it not only to have a subtle point of view, but, in fact, a racist one.

The issue is that of a religious organization that legitimately owns land being asked by a branch of the federal government to sell that land, and when the organization wishes to retain its property, the federal government attempts to take it anyway. It is the contention of your article that the religious organization by asserting its rights is being duplicitous by "slipping" provisions into an appropriations bill.

In your interpretation, because this organization is Japanese and "recruits legions of alienated Japanese with aggressive persuasion techniques," its attempts to keep the land it has developed and built on, rather than move because the federal government offers alternative sites, reminds one of the techniques practiced on Native Americans for the last 200 years. I think if a tribe that owned land today was told they had to relocate or else, the government would quickly find their own alternative site.

And your paper would not give it page one headlines. Similarly, I don't believe the Los Angeles Times would state that any senators or lawmakers sympathetic to the Native Americans staying where they have lived and built buildings would be labeled part of a "shrewd, high-powered lobbying campaign."

Furthermore, your allegation that the sect is made up of alienated Japanese youth is a very slanted way of describing an organization of over 10 million practitioners around the globe, dedicated to peace, whose president recently met with Gorbachev.

Perhaps the religious land-gaining techniques of other sects, say the Arabs recently in Kuwait, or even Catholicism in its highly aggressive persuading tactics in the conquering of the Americas, might give your newspaper some comparisons and a reminder of the Bill of Rights that protects all religions, and property rights as well.

PETER WERNER

Los Angeles

Werner is a member of Soka Gakkai International, and director of the movie, "Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes."

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