Khedrup, J wrote:
In one temple in Taiwan (not FGS or Dharma Drum, but another large one) when the master ordained some monks and nuns without the permission of their parents, the parents came to the temple and tried to take them home.
This seems to be describing Zhongtaishan (aka ChungTai Shan, Chung Tai Chan Monastery, etc.), which in 1996 "ordained more than 100 [actually 132] young nuns without the prescribed one-year waiting period and without notifying their parents." (from http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/budbusiness.html
) As I recall, this happened in the wake of a retreat (a summer camp) in which the ordinands may have been swept up in religious enthusiasm. While this was some 16 or 17 years ago, Zhongtaishan has been criticized for directing its resources towards the construction of an elaborate temple complex (like a garish Taj Mahal), and for its strained relationship with the surrounding area.
Xingyun from Foguangshan (Buddha Light Mountain) got famous because of his good relations with the Guomindang (Kuomintang, the Nationalist Party of Chiang Kai-shek), which allowed him to have a radio show at a time when few monastics were allowed access to mass media. (Think American TV evangelists.) With this he built the following that supported his institution-building.
"Big Buddhism" (as I call such groups) is often said to be "humanistic," but this refers to their ambition to diversify their business beyond funerals, not to any benevolence on their part. In fact they are displacing (or at least predating upon) a whole range of Buddhist and folk Daoist identities that are arguably better integrated into the lives of ordinary people. Perhaps this was an inevitable result of Buddhism's encounter with modern consumerism and other social changes such as urbanization. Tibetan groups tend to be much smaller, but the flow of money from Taiwanese donors to Tibetan projects in places like India has resulted in severe inequalities (and here the FPMT is a prime example).
A basic question that arises is, who should have a voice in such institutions? Monks...? Members...? Other stake-holders such as local people? Who is Buddhism for? As perverse as it may be to say so, too often in Chinese history, the destruction of Buddhist monasteries has to be seen as a kind of economic reform.