Nichiren Shoshu

Your articles about the controversy between the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) laypersons organization and the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood (Dec. 16) raise questions about the future of the SGI. The view from the inside, however, is one of confidence and optimism.

In response to the priests' Nov. 28 order excommunicating the SGI, the lay organization has circulated a petition asking for the high priest to resign. That petition now contains 16 million signatures. The SGI has a worldwide membership of about 12 million, which is approximately 99% of all Nichiren Shoshu believers. There are about 1,000 priests. This petition clearly shows a priesthood that lacks the support of the overwhelming majority of lay followers of the religion.

The key issue in the controversy with the priesthood involves the equality of all believers, including lay people and priests. Because SGI President Daisaku Ikeda and other lay leaders stood up courageously to point out the misconduct and distortion of religious teachings on the part of some priests, the whole SGI was excommunicated. Yet, strangely, the article describes Ikeda as dictatorial, when it is he who is fighting for the freedom of all human beings based on the teachings of the religion's founder, Nichiren Daishonin.

Any religion which wants to serve all people must recognize the universal desire for equality and democracy.

AL ALBERGATE

SGI-USA Director of Public Relations

Santa Monica

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