We're not going to make any progress in changing each other's views, but for the sake of discussion I'll respond.
illarraza wrote:Towards his faithful disciples and believers, he employed almost exclusively the gentle practices.
I jokingly commented on your concession that SG members are "errant disciples". Would it not follow that shoju is called for in addressing the shortcomings of their views?
"I should have corrected him more forcefully at the first signs of his errancy."
Like I said, Shakubuku does not come in one flavor. It does not mean you have to invoke 13th century Buddhist rhetoric. There are other approaches. They may not get as much attention - but I know from experience, they work over time, in ways that screaming about hell and fury are not.
Yet, more than 550,000 of their members abandoned their faith
You give too much credit to SGI-USA's statistics over the years, if that's where you got that number - I have no idea whether that number has any basis in reality, but I would not be surprised if that many people have "joined" and then quit. Most of those 550,000 were dragged in off the street and hustled into buying a scroll before they knew what the heck was happening. As soon as their sponsors decided they learned gongyo and released their hovering gaze, those people saw their chance to escape and escaped. You can hardly call them "members". A few thousand more stuck around a little longer because they heard the echos of valid teachings and wanted to find it, but got frustrated when all they were given was exhortations to have faith in Ikeda.
The vast majority of those who left the Gakkai have no strong feeling either way about the Lotus Sutra. It will be countless lifetimes before they again encounter the Law or the Buddha. It is far better to teach what and how Nichiren taught.
See, in light of my preceding comment, I don't know if your MO really is better. If we're going to talk about "Poison Drum" and the far reaching power of merely hearing the Buddha's name, at least SGI, with their promises of material benefit and "absolute happiness" got those people in the door and hearing the Daimoku. When you go preaching about the burning fires of Avici, I don't think you get those 550,000 people through the door and hearing the Daimoku. Maybe you get one or two, or ten, even 100, but no where near 550,000, and more likely a restraining order. Look, SGI may have lost 550,000 "members", but tens of thousands have also stuck, people from broad and diverse backgrounds - something that was discussed in the "Positive" thread. These are people all over the US who have not only come to identify themselves as Buddhist, but to also have taken the Buddhadharma in an attitude of sraddha and undertake fairly rigorous daily practices.
When you shit on everything that they have devoted their life to, they're not going to listen to you. "Oh, its the Kempon guy again." On the other hand, keeping a steady rain of criticism in a way that demonstrates you know what you are talking about - it has a longer term effect.
In their publications, they are actually now leading with "We are Nichiren Buddhists" rather than "practicing Nichiren's Life Philosophy". That is progress. That is institutional change. How far it goes is a different story, but the membership of SGI, or at least a part of it, seems to be pulling the whole organization toward Buddhadharma and away from their secularizing tendencies of the past. And the reason I'll venture, based on my own experience in SGI and talking with people since leaving is because as limited as it may be, there is a spark of pure faith in the BuddhaDharma - there is the desire to learn another phrase of Dharma. Its limited by the shortcomings of the institution, but its there. When our brothers and sisters have only one eye, its our responsibility to protect that one eye. You don't go up to the one eyed person and say, "Ewww. Your eye color is DISGUSTING!"
I don't have a club that I want people to join. I actually don't care if people are "members" of one club or another. What matters to me is that they continue to pursue their Buddhahood diligently, and help others in that endeavor.