LAS VEGAS, NV – Religious leaders from the Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and Jain faiths in the Las Vegas area released a joint statement urging Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino to “remove statues of various Hindu and Jain deities from its Foundation Room night club,” calling the placement of the statues “highly inappropriate,” KLAS 8 NewsNow reported on June 23.
In their statement, Fr. Stephen R. Karcher - the presiding priest at Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church in Reno, NV, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, Buddhist Priest Matthew T. Fisher, Jewish Rabbi ElizaBeth Webb Beyer, and Jain leader Sulekh C. Jain said that “placing highly revered Hindu and Jain deities to adorn a casino night-club was very disrespectful, out-of-line, and could be disturbing to the adherents of these faiths,” KLAS reported, adding that they “urged William Hornbuckle and Paul Salem, Acting CEO and Board Chairman respectively of MGM Resorts International, which owns Mandalay Bay Casino, to offer a formal apology to Hindu and Jain communities ‘for this insensitivity.’”
Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that “Hindu deities Lord Ganesha, Lord Shiva, goddess Saraswati, etc., were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be thrown around loosely in a casino night club for dramatic effects or mercantile/other agenda. Such denigration of sacred deities was hurtful to the devotees.”
Sulekh C. Jain noted that “pratima (statue) of Lord Mahavira belonged in a temple for veneration and are not to be misused or mishandled by the patrons of a night club.” He suggested that “the Mandalay Bay Casino could donate it to a Jain temple and the Jain community would gladly pay for its transportation.”
“Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled,” Zed noted.
Karcher, Zed, Fisher, Beyer, Jain further said that they, the faith leaders, support “free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more, but faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt the followers,” the statement noted.
On June 24, Mandalay Bay issued a statement and “pledged to remove the Mahavira statue,” KLAS reported, adding that “officials also said they would avoid repeating such mistakes.”
“The Foundation Room’s two-decade plus tradition of promoting racial and spiritual harmony through love, peace, truth, righteousness and non-violence is more important than ever. We deeply apologize to those who are offended by recent images and we will work diligently to ensure such insensitive depictions don’t happen again. Specifically, we are removing the statue Mahavira from our premises. We have always strived to promote dialogue to bring us closer together and are committed to this sentiment moving forward,” the Mandalay Bay statement read, KLAS reported.
The Foundation Room is located on the 63rd Floor of the Mandalay Bay.