William Parsons Woodard (September 10, 1896 – February 20, 1973), was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was a scholar of Japanese religion, and served as an advisor on religion and cultural resources during the allied command after World War II.
In 1918 Woodard graduated from Kalamazoo College with a history degree. He spent a short period of military service as a sergeant during World War I. Woodard married Harriet Mead in May 1920 and graduated from Union Theological Seminary in 1921.
Harriet died in Tokyo, October 9, 1956. Later that year, Woodard married Margaret (Peggy) Cuddeback, a missionary and YWCA secretary.
Woodard died February 20, 1973, in Pomona, California.
In 1921 he went to Japan as a missionary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (Congregational Christian Churches). He stayed in Japan until 1941. During the later part of his stay he worked as a secretary in the headquarters of the Kumiai Christian Church.
From 1942 to 1947, he served in the U.S. Navy as an intelligence officer, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He returned to Japan in 1945 after the end of World War II. He remained in Japan working with the military in a variety of roles related to the Religious Juridical Persons Law, until the end of the Allied occupation in 1952, when he returned to the States.
In 1953 he went back to Japan to found the International Institute for the Study of Religions. He served as their director until 1966, when he again returned to the United States.
After returning to the States, Woodard lectured at Claremont Graduate School from 1966 until 1972.
Woodard's research and study of Japanese religions during the Occupation resulted in his 1957 article "Religion-State Relations in Japan" in Contemporary Japan v.24, 640-676 (1957), which was at the time considered "The only scholarly work which concentrates on the occupation's religious efforts"  This was then expanded into his book The Allied Occupation of Japan and Japanese Religions (1972). The book was translated into Japanese as 天皇と神道 : GHQの宗教政策 / Tennō to Shintō : GHQ no shūkyō seisaku.
In 1975, WE Skillend writing in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Affairs said "No student of Japanese religion during the years since the war can fail to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Mr. Woodard. "  A Companion to Japanese History, said in 2007 that "Woodard's 1972 study remains the standard work on Japan's religious reformation ".
- Woodard, William Parsons (1972). The Allied Occupation of Japan 1945-1952 and Japanese religions. Brill. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
- Woodard, William Parsons; Kyokai, Nihon Gaiju (1960). Religious juridical persons law. Foreign Affairs Association of Japan. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
- Woodard, William Parsons; Kishimoto, Hideo (1958). Religion and modern life. Kokusai Shūkyō Kenkyū Sho. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
- Woodard, William Parsons (1959). The wartime persecution of Nichiren Buddhism. transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, 3rd. ser., vol. VII, Tokyo, 1959. Asiatic Society of Japan. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
- Woodard, William Parsons (1958). 大学宗教関係講義 (in Japanese). International Institute for the Study of Religions. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
- Woodard, William Parsons (1938). American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, General Council of the Congregational and Christian Churches in the United States. Board of Home Missions, General Council of the Congregational and Christian Churches of the United States. Board of Home Missions. "How can We Help Japan?". The Missionary herald at home and abroad. Missionary Herald: 4. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
- Union Theological Seminary (New York, N.Y.) (May 17, 1921). "Annual Report of the Faculty to the Board of Directors". Bulletin. 4 (5). Retrieved September 8, 2011.
- Lawrence S. Wittner, "MacArthur and the Missionaries: God and Man in Occupied Japan"Pacific Historical Review v.40, no.1 Feb, 1971. JStor
- Guide to the William P. Woodard Papers 1869-1974
- Review: AA Andrews - Journal of Asian and African Studies, 10, 1975
- Review, C. Blacker, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (1975), 38: 189-190
- Review, HH Reynolds Journal. of Church and State (1973) 15(1): 125-127
- Woodard, William P., and Yoshiya Abe. Tennō to Shintō: GHQ no shūkyō seisaku. Tōkyō: Saimaru Shuppankai, 1988. ISBN 978-4-377-10782-1
- Review of R A. Scalapino and C-s Lee: Communism in Korea. 2 vols.: ,(1972)
- William M. Tsutsui, "The Occupation" in, A Companion to Japanese History ed. Mark Metzler, Wiley 2007