Buddhism on Defamation of Religion

With so much diversity within the tradition and lacking a strong hierarchy in many places, Buddhism has no standard approach to the defamation of religion. Overall, however, Buddhist religious leaders generally do not seek to deny anyone the right to speak one’s mind, though they may criticize specific instances of disrespectful or slanderous speech as misuses of that right. Perhaps uniquely among religions, certain strands of Buddhism may even support the defamation of religion as spiritually valuable: a well-known koan from Zen Buddhism says, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him,” admonishing believers not to cling to any set ideas about enlightenment or what is sacred. Buddhist practice largely focuses on improving oneself rather than regulating the affairs of others, leaving most Buddhist authorities largely unconcerned by the defamation of religion. However, individual Buddhists may naturally take offense at attacks against their faith.