COTC Buddhism program sparks needed discussion

The Newark Advocate, Jan 19, 2012

Pataskala, Ohio (USA) -- The turnout Saturday for the informational program and discussion on Buddhism turned out to be an outstanding event, reflecting positively on the Pataskala community.

The Coffee and Conversation Event hosted by the Pataskala campus of Central Ohio Technical College, through its Lifelong Learning Institute, attracted about 100 people who appeared eager to learn about the religion. It stimulated open discussion that welcomed varied viewpoints about Buddhism in a fair manner.

And the issue was important enough for those attending not to be deterred by challenging winter weather.

The program came about as a result of plans by members of the Columbus Buddhism Center to build a Thai temple and Buddhist complex on five acres on the east side of Pataskala. A letter to the editor in the Standard last summer critical of the center and Buddhism, which followed a ground-breaking ceremony, was an impetus for scheduling the program.

With a Buddhist Monk present, along with varied speakers, including a former Jew who now teaches Buddhism and a Catholic nun, the presentation appeared to be well balanced and attempted to cover as much territory as possible.

Pataskala Mayor Steve Butcher's assurances that the city would closely monitor zoning codes that affect potential commercial aspects of the complex were reassuring as well.

Our nation is a diverse collection of people, ideals and religions. The Pataskala community has begun to experience this in particular with the diversity reflected in the student enrollment in the Licking Heights School district. The potential for the Buddhist complex presents another opportunity for learning and accepting things we're not accustomed to.

And once again, the Pataskala campus of COTC and its Lifelong Learning Institute have proven their unquestionable value to the community by promoting this discussion, encouraging the rest of us to ask open-minded questions and, based on the answers, make our own judgments about issues of the day.