I personally think that you're the one who's misguided in this respect. If you really believe that rituals, gold statue idolatry, incense burning and prayer to deified semi-mythical figures have ANYTHING to do with the teachings of Buddha, then you should re-evaluate.
Mahayana Buddhists follow the Eight Fold Path and accept the Four Noble Truths. These are teachings of Buddha. The follow the core teachings of Buddha. Therefore they are "Buddhists."
I challenge you to provide any scholarly source in the fields of anthropology or sociology concerned with religion that assert otherwise.
I say again: calling a sphere a cube presents no corners.
Very emotive term, by the way: Bigoted. Spare me. There's nothing bigoted about my dislike of organised religions, or more accurately, religious organisations.
Perhaps poorly chosen. But you'll notice I said "reminded" and did not mean to imply that you were
bigoted. I was recently engaged in another discussion elsewhere in which the very topic arose. I found the similarities striking.
Still, for purposes of defining the world around me in an anthropological way, I'll not be arsed to judge whether any one particular religionist is truly devoted; truly adherent; true believer; true [insert noun]. My inquiry is answered when I discover the doctrine said religionist follows or believes he/she follows. In the end, one's religion is about what that person believes
and professes to believe; not my opinions of that person's professed faith and what it should mean to be a true adherent.
Is Buddhism a religion or a philosophy? Its certainly the latter. It can be debated (and is!) on the former. It certainly doesn't fall into the parsimonious definition of a practice that has the purpose of influencing or gaining favor from a supernatural deity
. Theravadism is clearly a philosophical position, while Mahayanism has more religious content. While it may have no clear
deity (though for some, Buddha *is* deified), there are definitely supernatural overtones and mysticism involved.
And I've yet to see a course on comparative religion, world religion, or anthropology of religion that did not spend significant time reviewing Buddhism.
But to bring this back into the fold of the topic, I would have to conclude that by and large, Buddhists are not guilty of "evil" acts that can be attributed to other world religions that have
one or more deities. Indeed the core Buddhist beliefs include Arhat, which involves destroying hate, greed, and the like. It is, perhaps, impossible for the Buddhist to reconcile violence in the way other religions do simply because there are no deities like god or satan to blame for behaviors. There is only the individual: each responsible for his own actions on the path to enlightenment.
Call it a religion or call it a philosophy. Its hard to find fault with Theravadism.