Interfaith in Action: American Jews and Religious Pluralism in the US Military
Soon after midnight on February 3, 1943, a German U-boat torpedoed the Dorchester. As the ship went down, survivors reported, the ship's four chaplains George L. Fox (Methodist), Clark V. Poling (Dutch Reformed), John P. Washington (Catholic), and Alexander B. Goode (Jewish) gave away their lifejackets. Then, with arms linked together, they prayed in English, Latin, and Hebrew, and sunk together into the freezing North Atlantic. When news reached Americans, the public reaction was swift and unambiguous. Newspaper coverage dubbed the four chaplains heroes, and the men were quickly honored for their sacrifice. This talk explores how the four chaplains came to symbolize a particular form of mid-century religious pluralism and how American Jews helped shape the public idea of "Interfaith in Action."
Ronit Y. Stahl is assistant professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley. Her prize-winning first book, Enlisting Faith: How the Military Chaplaincy Shaped Religion and State in Modern America, was published by Harvard University Press in 2017. She has also written columns for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and the Forward. Previously, she held postdoctoral fellowships in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania and the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis.
Sponsor: Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program