The following is an experience and observation by a two year Soka Gakkai member writing on the Soka Gakkai Unofficial yahoo group:
"While I do agree that President "She thought we were like the Moonies with all the Ikeda stuff." deserves respect for making Nichiren Buddhism known in the West, why do you suppose you have had to explain "a million times" that the SGI does not worship President Ikeda?
Would you agree that there is at least a perception that this is happening?
One of the dictionary definitions of worship is: "To regard with great, even extravagant respect, honor, or devotion."
I once brought a friend to a cultural center to introduce her to the practice. This particular meeting started off with an experience in which the speaker lauded President Ikeda as his mentor. (Well, that's okay, if it helped him..Great!) This was followed by a film about Ikeda's youth. (Okay, interesting experience). This was followed by a Gojakai film explainig the requirements to join, one of which was to have read The New Human Revolution, by President Ikeda (not the Lotus Sutra, not the writings of Nichiren).The meeting concluded with "Forever Sensei." I think this fits the definition above.
At this point my friend wanted to leave as her "cult-meter" started going off. She though we were like the Moonies with all the Ikeda stuff.
But it is a fact that this continued focus on Ikeda turns a lot of people off, and has lead many to stop coming to meetings, or to leave the organization. I don't want that. You don't want that. To simply view this as "negativity" will not address the problem. In order to fix a problem, one must first admit there is a problem."