Religion and the Japanese American Incarceration

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Philosophy and Religious Studies

Publication Date



Abundant scholarship analyzes the United States' incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, but the subject of religion in the camps and religious responses to the incarceration has been long overlooked. The government promised freedom of religion in the camps while encouraging Japanese Americans to consolidate worship into one Buddhist, one Catholic, and one Protestant church in each incarceration center. Incarcerees found strength through fellowship and religious faith. Outside of the camps, progressive Christians tried to alleviate the harms caused by the injustice and increase tolerance around the country. The field offers examples of early race relations work within American Protestantism and introduces the ways in which the government prioritized and attempted to enforce freedom of religion within a fabricated and restricted wartime environment. Further examination of these events will complement studies of 20th century liberal Christianity, American Buddhism, religious liberty and the state, the early civil rights movement, religion and World War II, and Asian American theology.


This article was originally published in Religion Compass. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Religion Compass


© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd