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Buddhist Temples in Houston, Texas, Report Burglaries

Locations of temples attacked in recent months in Houston. From

A Buddhist temple in Houston, Texas, has become the fourth temple to be targeted in a string of robberies in the city, leading some community members to feel that they have been victimized on religious or racial grounds. The most recent temple to be attacked was Texas Guandi Temple, which was vandalized and robbed on 28 February.

Texas Guandi Temple centers on reverence for the Guan Yu, a deified historical figure who is worshipped by many Buddhists, Confucians, and Daoists as part of wider popular religious practice. Several doors at the temple were broken and an undisclosed amount of cash was stolen.

The incident follows the burglaries of two Buddhist temples in late January: Huong Nghiem Temple and Cam Lo Temple, both predominantly serving the area’s Vietnamese community.

The January burglaries took place on 28 January, while Sunday services were taking place. The supervisor of Huong Nghiem Temple, Nguyen Dat Thich, discovered the burglary after returning from a funeral.

“You could see footprints on the doors from them kicking the doors in. They tossed through everything: beds, tables, clothing. It looked like a war zone,” Thich told reporters through a translator. “When the female monks returned, they felt startled. They couldn’t even come inside. They were fearful. They cried and screamed. They couldn’t even sleep at night. They were so scared. They’re worried about what they would do if someone came back and they were by themselves.” (ABC 13)

Cam Lo Temple, just 5.6 kilomters away, was also burglarized that day. Temple resident Thu Nguey reported that it was the second time that the temple had been targeted in recent months, after an 8 November incident in which suspects stole their surveillance camera and cash.

“For this to happen twice in two months, that makes me feel unsafe. Unsafe for me and unsafe for my neighbors,” Nguyen said. “I don’t even dare to leave anymore, because I’ll say, ‘I’m only leaving for 30 mins.’ But this happened.” (ABC 13)

A monk at a third Vietnamese Buddhist temple, Phuoc Duc Temple, told reporters that he saw someone peeking through their windows last week but the people never entered the property.

Entrance to Thanh Long Tu. From

And last week, Thanh Long Tu Temple, also known as the Culture of Golden Heart Association, filed a report regarding a burglary that took place on 29 September 2023, when a suspect damaged the temple’s altar and stole cash.

The attorney representing Thanh Long Tu Temple, Thuy Le, has sought to raise awareness about the impact on the broader community. She noted that the Lunar New Year meant that many temples were especially open and that donation boxes would contain more cash than usual.

“A lot of times, the doors are open,” Le said. “Anybody who wants to come in and worship, to burn incense, to pray, it’s open. So when they open that door to the community, unfortunately, what happens is people take advantage of that openness.” (ABC 13)

Investigators in Houston have urged anyone who might be a victim to reach out to law enforcement officials. They believe these crimes are being underreported, making it difficult to determine whether there is an identifiable trend.

According to Le, there are a number of reasons that members of the area’s Buddhist communities have been hesitant to speak with police.

“Everybody’s very nervous and scared. They don’t want to be the public face of anything. They’re very afraid of retribution. They’re afraid of somebody coming back and causing trouble for them,” Le explained. “I know this is a community that historically does not cooperate or have strong relations with police. But we want anyone out there who’s been affected to contact HPD.” (ABC 13)

See more

‘People take advantage’: Buddhist community on edge after HPD says 4th temple targeted by burglars (ABC 13)
Women monks feel ‘unsafe’ after 2 Vietnamese Buddhist temples ransacked on same day in SW Houston (ABC 13)
Buddhist community on edge after HPD says 4th temple targeted by burglars (Yahoo! News)

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