Christian Indoctrination and Religious Learning

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The First Communion class of the Catholic Church at Minidoka Relocation Center in Hunt, Idaho, 1943. Courtesy of the University of Southern California Libraries.

Christian missions and organizations played a large role in the religious lives of many camp internees. Missionaries had been building relationships with Japanese immigrant communities since the first Japanese immigrants arrived on US soil. Religious schools indoctrinated Japanese American children starting in day care services and exerting influence over a student's entire primary education. During World War II, religious organizations advocated for fairer treatment of Japanese Americans, while working to Americanize them through religious indoctrination. In some instances, religious teachers followed their parishes into the camps to continue their religious instruction.

Religious identity among Japanese Americans prior to incarceration was often complicated. Some Japanese Americans identified as Christian superficially before entering the camps in response to sociocultural pressure. Others turned more fully to Christianity for other reasons, ranging from the desire to identify with the American majority to true philosophical and religious conversion.