>>>My Pastor has never mentioned Buddha. We don’t spend time discussing false Gods
I take it he never talks about God or Jesus then, either?
And of course Buddha is not a God. Or a god, either.
As for the Chinese restaurants using Hotei…they also use fortune cookings, which have no role in “real” Chinese cuisine. But it’s what Americans expect so it’s what they get.
I’m not Christian, but I think it’s because that’s actually how popular culture refers to the Buddha – “buddha belly.” It’s like everything else. Just a lack of knowledge. And there are actually places in the world where that image of Buddha is revered. So… It’s not just Christians and churches. It’s in popular culture.
Actually our chruches don’t teach anything about the Buddah – we simply do not care.
By the way – in my city there is a Pu-Lin Buddhist temple. Guess what it has in front of it? A 15 foot tall statue of a “happy Buddha”. Big tummy and all.
So now I ask you why would we be confused by your question?
I am Buddhist since many years and when I read your question I had to think about the eightfold path.
Right speech is the first principle of ethical conduct in the eightfold path. Ethical conduct is viewed as a guideline to moral discipline, which supports the other principles of the path. This aspect is not self-sufficient, however, essential, because mental purification can only be achieved through the cultivation of ethical conduct. The importance of speech in the context of Buddhist ethics is obvious: words can break or save lives, make enemies or friends, start war or create peace. Buddha explained right speech as follows: 1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully, 2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others, 3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others, and 4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth. Positively phrased, this means to tell the truth, to speak friendly, warm, and gently and to talk only when necessary.