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Mourning the Unborn DeadA Buddhist Ritual Comes to America$
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Jeff Wilson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195371932

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195371932.001.0001

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“Without Biblical Revelation”

“Without Biblical Revelation”

Rhetorical Appropriations of Mizuko Kuyō by Christians and Other Non-Buddhist Americans

(p.129) 5 “Without Biblical Revelation”
Mourning the Unborn Dead

Jeff Wilson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses how Catholics, Evangelicals, feminists, and other non-Buddhists have rhetorically appropriated mizuko kuyō in the various battles of the American cultural wars, especially abortion. Pro-life advocates have actively disseminated information about mizuko kuyō as a way of proving that post-abortion trauma is a universal phenomenon and of demonstrating that they care about women, not just fetuses. Pro-choice activists have pointed to mizuko kuyō as proof that religion doesn’t need to condemn abortion and that ritual, rather than legal, means can be used to deal with abortion’s effects on society. This points to the need for a new category in the historiography of American Buddhism: Buddhist appropriators, who are non-Buddhists that strategically employ selected elements of Buddhism for their own purposes, thus contributing in often unrecognized ways to the Americanization of Buddhism.

Keywords:   abortion, Buddhism, Catholicism, culture war, evangelical Christianity, pro-choice, pro-life, post-abortion syndrome

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