Internment Crisis

In the 1920s and 1930s, the Chinese and Japanese communities remaining in the United States put down roots. Their religious institutions were modest and included Chinese, Japanese Jodo ShinshuThe Jodo Shinshu or True Pure Land school of Buddhism was founded by the Japanese monk Shinran Shonin in the 12th century. This tradition regards chanting the name of Amida Buddha as the most appropriate form of practice in the current degenerate age. Tod..., and a few Soto and Rinzai Zen templesA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref.... By far the largest was the Jodo Shinshu, called the Buddhist Mission of North America, which had 123 ministersMinister is a general term for a member of the clergy in the Christian church. The term has also come to use in other religious traditions to designate a member of the clergy (as in the Jodo Shinshu tradition and the Nation of Islam). in 1930.

After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, however, the Japanese-American community came under severe attack. Buddhist priestsA priest is the leader of a religious community or congregation, specially trained and often ordained to service, who leads members of the community in the rituals and practice of shared and individual life. Many traditions have forms of priesthood.In the... and other community leaders were singled out for immediate arrest because they were thought to be particularly prone to disloyalty toward the United States. All Japanese Americans on the West Coast, citizens and noncitizens alike, were ordered into internment camps for the duration of the war.

In the camps, Buddhist priests served as community leaders, and Buddhist services continued in a nonsectarian form. The experience of internment made a lasting impression in the Japanese-American Buddhist community in two ways. First, because loyalty to America was often tied to being Christian rather than Buddhist, the membership of many temples declined after the war. Second, for the Buddhist organizations that remained viable—such as the newly renamed Jodo Shinshu organization, Buddhist ChurchesThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ... of America—there began a process of the “Protestantization” of its liturgical and institutional forms. The pews and hymnbooks, organs and responsive readings of the Jodo Shinshu temples began to conform to the “look and feel” of a ProtestantProtestant is a term used for the range of reform movements that broke with the Roman Catholic Church during the period called the Reformation. There are many branches of Protestantism, including the Lutherans, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists... churchThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ....


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