How Buddhists and Mormons are alike

It took a Utah newcomer to uncover parallels between Mormonism and American Buddhism, two religious systems that have coexisted in the state for more than 100 years.

There are obvious theological, ritualistic and practical differences between American Buddhism and Mormonism, but both use a lay clergy, reinforce the importance of family and share a view of morality that embraces wisdom and compassion, says Charles Prebish, who will offer these and other insights in a paper at next week's conference on "Buddhism Without Borders" in Berkeley, Calif.

Prebish -- a pre-eminent Buddhist scholar in America who has published 21 books and more than 75 scholarly articles -- accepted a position as director of Utah State University's newly created religious-studies program three years ago after teaching at Penn State for more than three decades.

The Buddhist scholar-practitioner knew little about Utah's LDS-dominated landscape before he moved to the state, he says. "Yet no group has been more interesting, and challenging to understand, than the Buddhist communities in my new Utah homeland."

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