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Faking LibertiesReligious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan$
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Jolyon Baraka Thomas

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226618791

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226618968.001.0001

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Who Wants Religious Freedom?

Who Wants Religious Freedom?

(p.167) 6 Who Wants Religious Freedom?
Faking Liberties

Jolyon Baraka Thomas

University of Chicago Press

American interpretations of religious freedom during the Occupation were far from uniform. Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers Douglas MacArthur wanted to Christianize Japan by any means necessary, while Religions and Cultural Resources Division chief William Bunce aimed to promote personalized, elective understandings of religious freedom. Meanwhile, the Occupation rank and file, Japanese citizens, and Occupation translators and clerical staff harbored a wide variety of assumptions about what religious freedom was and who should benefit from it. Forced to reconcile competing interpretations of religious freedom among the occupiers while simultaneously charged with fostering “a desire for religious freedom" in the Japanese populace, members of the Occupation Religions and Cultural Resources Division set about establishing a new, universal understanding of religious freedom. They did so primarily by interfacing with existing and newly formed transdenominational and transsectarian religious organizations. In so doing, the occupiers ironically reproduced a dynamic that characterized the close, collaborative relationships between Japanese religions and the state in wartime.

Keywords:   religious freedom, Christianization, democratization, Religion and Cultural Resources Division, education, land reform, transsectarian organizations

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