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JFK's 1960 Speech as Catholic Victim

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 4 months ago

Address of Senator John F. Kennedy to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association


Rice Hotel, Houston, Texas

September 12, 1960


Listen to this speech


Reverend Meza, Reverend Reck, I'm grateful for your generous invitation to speak my views .


While the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the chief topic here tonight, I want to emphasize from the outset that we have far more critical issues to face in the 1960 election; the spread of Communist influence, until it now festers 90 miles off the coast of Florida--the humiliating treatment of our President and Vice President by those who no longer respect our power--the hungry children I saw in West Virginia, the old people who cannot pay their doctor bills, the families forced to give up their farms--an America with too many slums, with too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space.


These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues--for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barriers.


But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured--perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again--not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me--but what kind of America I believe in.


I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishoners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.


I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish--where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source--where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials--and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.


For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew--or a Quaker--or a Unitarian--or a Baptist. It was Virginia's harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson's statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim- -but tomorrow it may be you--until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.


Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end--where all men and all churches are treated as equal--where every man has the same right to attend or not 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 pastoral level, 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.


I would not look with favor upon a President working to subvert the first amendment's guarantees of religious liberty. Nor would our system of checks and balances permit him to do so--and neither do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test--even by indirection--for it. If they disagree with that safeguard they should be out openly working to repeal it.


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


This is the kind of America I believe in--and this is the kind I fought for in the South Pacific, and the kind my brother died for in Europe. No one suggested then that we may have a "divided loyalty," that we did "not believe in liberty," or that we belonged to a disloyal group that threatened the "freedoms for which our forefathers died."


And in fact this is the kind of America for which our forefathers died--when they fled here to escape religious test oaths that denied office to members of less favored churches--when they fought for the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom--and when they fought at the shrine I visited today, the Alamo. For side by side with Bowie and Crockett died McCafferty and Bailey and Carey--but no one knows whether they were Catholic or not. For there was no religious test at the Alamo.


I ask you tonight to follow in that tradition--to judge me on the basis of my record of 14 years in Congress--on my declared stands against an Ambassador to the Vatican, against unconstitutional aid to parochial schools, and against any boycott of the public schools (which I have attended myself)--instead of judging me on the basis of these pamphlets and publications we all have seen that carefully select quotations out of context from the statements of Catholic church leaders, usually in other countries, frequently in other centuries, and always omitting, of course, the statement of the American Bishops in 1948 which strongly endorsed church-state separation, and which more nearly reflects the views of almost every American Catholic.


I do not consider these other quotations binding upon my public acts--why should you? But let me say, with respect to other countries, that I am wholly opposed to the state being used by any religious group, Catholic or Protestant, to compel, prohibit, or persecute the free exercise of any other religion. And I hope that you and I condemn with equal fervor those nations which deny their Presidency to Protestants and those which deny it to Catholics. And rather than cite the misdeeds of those who differ, I would cite the record of the Catholic Church in such nations as Ireland and France--and the independence of such statesmen as Adenauer and De Gaulle.


But let me stress again that these are my views--for contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters--and the church does not speak for me.


Whatever issue may come before me as President--on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject--I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.


But if the time should ever come--and I do not concede any conflict to be even remotely possible--when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same.


But I do not intend to apologize for these views to my critics of either Catholic or Protestant faith--nor do I intend to disavow either my views or my church in order to win this election.



If I should lose on the real issues, I shall return to my seat in the Senate, satisfied that I had tried my best and was fairly judged. But if this election is decided on the basis that 40 million Americans lost their chance of being President on the day they were baptized, then it is the whole nation that will be the loser, in the eyes of Catholics and non-Catholics around the world, in the eyes of history, and in the eyes of our own people.


But if, on the other hand, I should win the election, then I shall devote every effort of mind and spirit to fulfilling the oath of the Presidency--practically identical, I might add, to the oath I have taken for 14 years in the Congress. For without reservation, I can "solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution . . . so help me God.


Gov. Romney Interview With Jan Mickelson


  • "I don't like all the emphasis that's being put on it, because I see it as being a little unfair. He is a man of faith and he has amazing principles. He's a good father and husband. I'd like them to look at the measure of the man and stop focusing so much just on his faith."


Governor Mitt Romney's religion Policy


Press Releases, Quotes, Speeches, and Videos from Mitt Romney about Religion. Organized by year


A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z



In The News


Governor Mitt Romney and Religion Press Releases









Questions for Governor Mitt Romney



  1. 1st Debate
    1. What do you say to bishops who deny Communion to elected officials who support abortion rights?
    2. Do you accept Huckabee's statement that he wasn't talking about you?
  2. Mike Allen
    1. Why are key tenets of your faith still misunderstood?
  3. How is your church so successful in getting its young people to follow its teachings?
  4. Brian Lamb
    1. Who was Brigham Young?
    2. Well, if you go back -- and I found the name Pratt in your background who was some circuitous route related to Joseph Smith who was one of the founders of Mormonism.
    3. Are you prepared to deal with attacks on your religion?
    4. Do you have an evangelical problem?
    5. Has there been a mood change in the country about the importance of talking about religion?
    6. One place that I found that you almost died (His Mission)
  5. Wolf Blitzer
    1. How do you deal with the fact that you are a Mormon?
  6. Robert B Bluey
    1. Are you prepared to deal with what is bound to be attacks from the media and opponents about your religious faith?
  7. Wolf Blitzer
    1. Will evangelicals support a Mormon?
  8. Hugh Hewitt
    1. Does the country know enough about radical islam?
    2. Do you stand by your use of the word Islamic-facism?
    3. How many times are you going to have to ask and answer these questions?
  9. Jay Leno
    1. Is their enough diversity within the Mormon Church?
  10. Katherine Jean Lopez
    1. Will an exposé on Mormon Christmas celebrations hurt you in the primaries?
  11. George Stephanopoulos
    1. How does your faith inform your politics?
  12. Chris Wallace
    1. Are you a cultist?


George Stephanopoulos and the Romney's discuss their Faith


  • The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.
    • Ralph W. Sockman


  • In Massachusetts Romney signed laws allowing stores to sell alcohol on Sundays, even though he was prohibited by his faith from drinking.


  • In Massachusetts Romney signed laws that expand the state lottery, though Mormons are forbidden to gamble.


  • “There’s no church-directed view. How can you have Harry Reid on one side and Orrin Hatch on the other without recognizing that the church doesn’t direct political views? I very clearly subscribe to Abraham Lincoln’s view of America’s political religion. And that is when you take the oath of office, your responsibility is to the nation, and that is first and foremost.”
    • Governor Mitt Romney



Quotes from Governor Mitt Romney on Religion

  • "Oh, I think initially. Some people would say, Gosh, I don't know much about your faith, tell me about it. And I'd probably outline the fundamentals. I'm a religious person. I believe that Jesus Christ is my Savior. But then as you get into the details of doctrines I'd probably say look time out, let's focus on the values that we share. And fundamentally the values of my faith are very much like the values of other Judeo-Christian tradition values. And I think Americans want to have a leader who is a person of faith, but their not going to get terribly involved in the differences of doctrine, as long as the values we share are common."
    • Governor Mitt Romney on the Charlie Rose Show, June 5, 2006


  • "Not really. Not at this stage. You know its possible that there will come some point were there is a question that galvanizes interest and there is an occasion to say something that cuts through the confusion that may develop but at this stage it is kind of hard to predict what will happen. I mean I remember in the race with Ronald Reagan, it was in his debate that he said, "I'm not going to let your youth and inexperience become an issue in this campaign". That sort of put aside his age issue. And there may well be something of that nature. I just don't think Americans will do something the constitution forbids. The constitution says that no religious test shall ever be required for qualification for office in these United States, and I don't think my party or the American people would ever do that."
    • Governor Mitt Romney on the Charlie Rose Show, June 5, 2006
      • Guest host Judy Woodruff: John Kennedy, we remember, looked for and found a venue where he could talk about his catholic faith. The Houston ministry is a very famous speech that he gave. Would you look for and are you looking for a place were you can make a statement like this and are you looking for the right place and time?


  • "There is a leap of faith associated with every religion. You haven't exactly got those doctrines right, but if you have doctrines you want to talk about go talk to the church, because that's not my job. But the most unusual thing in my church is that we believe there was once a flood upon the earth and that a man took a boat and put two of each animal inside the boat and saved humanity by doing that."
    • Governor Mitt Romney on the Charlie Rose Show, June 5, 2006
      • Guest host Judy Woodruff: But there are some aspects of Mormonism that many Americans might not understand… are these legitimate issues for people to ask you about?


  • "There are unusual beliefs associated with each faith and I'm proud of my faith and happy to talk to people about it but fundamentally my race for governor, my race for senator before that, and if I run for nationally its going to be about the values that I have, and the values that I think should be emphasized in this country and answers to the kind of challenges that we face, because I believe that America is at a critical time, and I believe those are the types of issues that people will focus on."


  • “This is a sad day for neglected and abandoned children. In this case, it’s a mistake for our laws to put the rights of adults over the needs of children. While I respect the board’s decision to stay true to their principles, I find the current state of the law deeply disturbing and a threat to religious freedom.”


  • “I ask the Legislature to work with me on a bill that I will file to ensure that religious institutions are able to participate in the important work of adoption in a way that always respects and never forces them to compromise their firmly held beliefs.”


Governor Mitt Romney and Religion Debate

Mitt Romney's religious views should be acceptable for a president of the United States.

Reasons to agree:

  1. He doesn't try to impose his will on those who disagree with him.

People won't support Mitt because he is Mormon.

Mitt Romney works well with leaders of many religions

Reasons to agree:

Thoughts about Governor Mitt Romney and Religion


Sept 03, 2006 Myclob


Bill Clinton said the following in his book, My Life:


I badly wanted Kennedy to win… after he spoke to the southern Baptist in Houston defending his faith and the right of Catholics Americans to run for president. Most of my classmates and their parents disagreed. I was getting used to it.


Nixon carried our county but squeaked by in our Arkansas with 52.2 percent of the vote, despite the best efforts of protestant fundamentalist to convince Baptist democrats that he would be taking orders from the pope.


Of course, the fact that he was a catholic was one of the reasons I wanted Kennedy to be president. From my own experiences at St. John's school, and my encounters with the nuns who worked with Mother St. Joseph's hospital, I liked and admired Catholics. Their values, devotion and social conscience.


I wonder if Clinton would say the same about Romney? Romney has said that Clinton was an embarrassment to our country, and so I doubt Clinton will ever say that Romney should get a fair chance on his substance. Just another instance of Hypocrisy on the left. Unless I'm proved wrong.



I wish those who are trying to tear down Mitt Because of his faith would listen to this quote, by one of our church leaders:


"When you go into a neighborhood to preach the Gospel, never attempt to tear down a man's house, so to speak, before you build him a better one; never, in fact, attack any one's religion, wherever you go. Be willing to let every man enjoy his own religion. It is his right to do that. If he does not accept your testimony with regard to the Gospel of Christ, that is his affair, and not yours. Do not spend your time in pulling down other sects and parties. We haven't time to do that. It is never right to do that." Contributor, August 1895, pp.636–37.


What Other Mormom Cultist have to Say about Religion



Myclob's religous beliefs



  1. http://www.article6blog.com/
  2. http://sanity.blog-city.com/read/religion.htm



In remarks in N.C., says US under attack

By Seth Effron and Raphael Lewis, Globe Staff | October 11, 2005


RALEIGH, N.C. -- Venturing into foreign policy, Governor Mitt Romney yesterday told a largely Republican audience that Islamic terrorists want to bring down our government" and want to put in place a huge theocracy."


We're under attack, as you know, militarily," Romney told about 150 people gathered at an exclusive Raleigh country club. They're not just intent on blowing up a little bomb here and there at a shopping mall, awful as that would be. They want to bring down our government, bring down our entire economy. They want to put in place a huge theocracy."


Thank heavens we have a president of the United States who recognizes this for what it is and has declared war on it, and thank heavens we have a military that consists of the strongest and bravest and most able men and women in the world," Romney said.


The Raleigh luncheon was the first of two fund-raisers yesterday for the Foundation for NC Future -- a nonprofit advocacy group set up by a well-to-do Charlotte-area Republican state senator, Robert Pittenger. The second event was held in Charlotte later yesterday afternoon.


Asked later by a Globe reporter about his remarks, Romney said he was referring to Islamic terrorists.


Obviously, this is an extreme fundamentalist perspective," he responded. It's certainly not shared by the people of Islam generally, but is shared by some radical few."


Then he was asked if he felt Islamic terrorists want to take over the United States. Romney said: No. No. No."


I don't have any foreign intelligence that's any different than what you read in the various journals and so forth," the governor said. Among the various reports I've read -- and I think President Bush has described -- that there are some who wish to bring down the Western-leaning governments and put in a more fundamentalist, religious leadership. But that's not something I'm something I'm expert in."


Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney's communications director, said last night that the governor had made an assertion in earlier speeches that terrorists were seeking a broad based ''theocracy." Those remarks have not been widely reported, however.


Fehrnstrom also pointed to an account earlier this month from the New York Times describing a letter obtained by the US forces in Iraq that was written by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the second-ranking leader of Al Qaeda.


According to the Times, the letter outlined a four-stage battle plan, beginning with the American military's expulsion, followed by the creation of a militant Islamic caliphate in Iraq and then in Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. The final step, the Times reported, quoted unnamed US officials, would be a battle against Israel.


Romney, who has yet to announce whether he will seek the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, drew criticism from some Muslims and civil liberties advocates last month when he raised the prospect of wiretapping mosques and conducting surveillance of foreign students



Also See


Exterior Links


  1. http://reason4romney.blogspot.com/search/label/Religion





  1. Article 6 Blog
  2. http://www.scriptoriumdaily.com/2007/03/28/hewitt-on-romney-why-erick-erickson-is-wrong/


Solving His Mormon Problem: Do It The Founders' Way, Mr Romney

By Michael J. Gaynor

Mar 25, 2007




Kenneth Woodward


Exterior Links

  1. Pew Forum



Mitt Romney Meets With Media in Ames



Ingraham: Any thoughts on Romney? Any other thoughts on Romney? He is now winning in Iowa and looks like he is winning in some polls in New Hampshire.


Dr. Dobson: Since I talked to you I have spent an hour and a half with him and I liked him. I mean he is very presidential and he has got the right answers to many, many things. I haven’t made a decision yet, but lets just say he is still on the list.



1. Article 6

2. Evangelicals for Mitt

3. Religion on Blog Elect Romney in 2008

4. JFK address to Southern Baptist Leaders

5. CBN's The Brody File



  • "I have no problem voting for a person who is not of my faith as long as he or she stands with me on the moral and social issues. Mitt Romney may be a candidate for president. He's a Mormon. If he's pro-life, pro-family, I don't think he'll have any problem getting the support of evangelical Christians."
    • Evangelist Jerry Falwell, 07-28-2006


Romney: Proud Of His Faith & Values



  1. http://www.romneyexperience.com/





Gov. Romney Media Avail In Nevada

Comments (1)

Answer Blip said

at 9:58 am on Jan 30, 2010

Those are some great videos and speeches. Would love your input in our community of people looking for answers about religion http://www.answerblip.com/religion-philosophy

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