Monday, August 30, 2010

Fifty Years of Progress?

The first Presidential campaign I remember was in 1960 when Senator John F. Kennedy was the Democratic candidate. It's also the first time that I encountered political chicanery, although I was too young to know what it was.

Not long after Mr. Kennedy became the candidate, whispers started that were overheard even in our elementary schools:
Mr. Kennedy was a...well, a Catholic. Not only that, he was a Roman Catholic. And look at his name - John Fitzgerald Kennedy - an Irish Roman Catholic.

They would always include his full middle name. Somehow this was supposed to make us afraid.

Living in a relatively small town that still managed to support two Catholic churches, two Catholic elementary schools, a Catholic Junior High, and an all-girls Catholic High School, I'm not really sure what most of us made of this "information."

So, the whispering campaign expanded. We should understand that if Kennedy won, then the Pope would run the United States of America. President Kennedy would have to do everything the Pope told him to or be excommunicated.

Recent events reminded of this time 50 years ago. We should all read Kennedy's address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12th,1960 and wonder how much progress America has made.

Two excerpts from this speech:

"... That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe, a great office that must be neither humbled by making it the instrument of any religious group nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding it -- its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a President whose views on religion are his own private affair, neither imposed upon him by the nation, nor imposed by the nation upon him¹ as a condition to holding that office..."

"...I want a Chief Executive whose public acts are responsible to all and obligated to none, who can attend any ceremony, service, or dinner his office may appropriately require of him to fulfill; and whose fulfillment of his Presidential office is not limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual, or obligation..."

No comments: