World War II was a turning point in twentieth-century American
history, and its effects on American society have been studied from
virtually every conceivable historical angle. Until now, though,
the role of religion--an important aspect of life on the home
front--has essentially been overlooked. In A Cautious
, Gerald Sittser addresses this omission. He examines
the issues raised by World War II in light of the reactions they
provoked among Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Unitarians, and
members of other Christian denominations. In the process, he
enriches our understanding of the relationships between church and
society, religion and democracy. In deliberate contrast to the
zealous, even jingoistic support they displayed during World War I,
American churches met the events of the Second World War with
ambivalence. Though devoted to the nation, Sittser argues, they
were cautious in their patriotic commitments and careful to
maintain loyalty to ideals of peace, justice, and humanitarianism.
Religious concerns played a role in the debate over American entry
into the war and continued to resurface over issues of
mobilization, military chaplaincy, civil rights, the internment of
Japanese Americans, Jewish suffering, the dropping of the atomic
bomb, and postwar planning.
Originally published in 1997.
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