Abbot Shi Yongxin, who runs China’s famed Shaolin Temple, has been digging the pay dirt for the prestigious monastery for years. However, his operating ideology that made Shaolin thrive financially is sometimes condemned by detractors as “profane”, and rumors around him persist. From Isaac Stone Fish at The Daily Beast:
Shi straddles many of China’s dichotomies: the sacred and the profane, the modern and the ancient, the party and the people. He is a portrait of success in modern China, standing at the intersection of the Communist Party’s control of both business and religion. Some see him as a brilliant visionary keeping the martial-arts tradition alive; others claim he’s a party huckster who has accepted millions in “gifts” and makes money by charging up to $14,000 for the right to burn incense in the sacred grounds of the temple. Shi has denied these allegations, but he continues to inspire both vitriol and adulation. In 2009 Shaolin’s website was hacked to display the message “Shaolin evildoer Shi Yongxin, go to hell.” Last March, as a delegate to China’s rubber-stamp Parliament, Shi made news by showing up in yellow robes, holding an iPad.
[…] In a country where grassroots opinion plays a surprisingly large role in unseating public figures, Shi has had to deal with rumors about his alleged worldliness. One of the most pernicious claims is that Shi was caught visiting prostitutes in May 2011, and that a temple spokesman had claimed Shi met the women in order to enlighten them. About the scandal, Shi said, “it’s impossible for someone who’s been a monk for decades to have this thing happen.” Wang Yumin, a former travel agent who runs the temple’s foreign-affairs office, said the prostitution rumors were “delusional,” adding, “According to Buddhism, people who speak delusions will get their reckoning.”
Read more about Shaolin Temple and church-government relationship in China via CDT.