A woman's badly decomposed body has been found in a shed behind a Vietnamese Buddhist residential temple in the small Orange County, California village of Midway City. The village occupies a unincorporated county "island" surrounded by the predominantly Vietnamese town of Westminster, and has long been favored by county employees, who live there for tax purposes.
Authorities are speculating the body is that of a nun, who hasn't been seen since May 2010. The media are rather luridly reporting that the nun is "mummified," in possible reference to the body's advanced state of decomposition. The Orange County Sheriff's Department is treating the matter as a potential homicide.
Residential temples are extremely common in Southern California's South East Asian community, and have long been a source of friction. They are modest in character, being nothing more than converted houses, but have been the subject of numerous lawsuits by neighbors and city officials, who object to Buddhist temples in residential neighborhoods. More often than not, these lawsuits have been tossed out of court -- it is still legal to be a Buddhist in California -- but the ill feelings linger. Through the years, there have actually been public demonstrations, and so forth.
Undoubtedly, as the broadcast media continues to bombard viewers with this story -- the nuns at this temple were very sloppy housekeepers, and the images of a filthy back yard are not pretty -- somebody is bound to raise the issue of Buddhist residential temples at the code enforcement or court level, once again.