On September 12, 1960 Senator John Kennedy of Massachusetts gave a speech to the Houston Ministerial Association at the Rice Hotel in Houston, Texas. He faced great skepticism at that time for a number of reasons not least among which was his faith. He was a practicing Catholic. All American presidents to that point had belonged to one or another Protestant Christian sect. Still, to this day, there have been no presidents who are Jewish, Mormon, Pentacostal, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox or Muslim (and that includes Obama).
In the context of James Hagee, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Jerry Fallwell, and their ilk along with that nut case in Florida who wants to burn the Quran (intentionally with no link â€” the jerk’s had too much publicity already), a revisit to this speech is in order.
Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end, where all men and all churches are treated as equals, where every man has the same right to attend or not to attend the church of his choice, where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind, and where Catholics, Protestants, and Jews, at both the lay and the pastoral levels, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.
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 neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.
Wow! What a concept. How uniquely American. How far we have come since then â€” NOT!
Full text here.
And the full vid.
Following is the Q&A, split in three. Also edifying.