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JFK's privatized religion (Is it possible for a President's religion to have no influence at all?)
The Christian Century ^ | 03/07/2012 | David Helm

Posted on 03/07/2012 6:49:19 AM PST by SeekAndFind

John F. Kennedy's famous Houston speech on church and state during the 1960 presidential campaign elicited Rick Santorum's after-the-fact disgust. Though Santorum misrepresents the speech in some ways--Kennedy didn't say anything about limiting religious institutions and leaders from speaking on public issues--he is right to find the speech theologically lame.

In trying to assure Protestant voters that they had nothing to fear in voting for a Catholic as president, JFK stressed that his religious views were "his own private affair." He laid out his vision of a chief executive whose public acts would not be "limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual or obligation."

Not limited or conditioned by any religious obligation? In essence, Kennedy was saying that his Catholic faith did not and would not shape anything he might do or think as president.

One imagines that JFK's parish priests and catechism teachers might have heard that claim with some dismay: You mean attending mass all these years hasn't meant anything? Nothing the church says can have any influence on you? JFK's extreme privatization of religion was noted at the time by some Catholic and Protestant observers (including the Century, whose Protestant editors were wrestling with their own deep reservations about electing a Catholic).

Nevertheless, JFK probably correctly assessed the political challenges that faced a Catholic running for president. In the words of historian Mark Massa, Kennedy "had to 'secularize' the American presidency in order to win it."

The religious outsider in this year's race, Mitt Romney, has drawn heavily on JFK's example, trying to keep his faith off limits and suggesting that it's un-American to even raise the issue. In his 2007 speech that tackled the issue head on, Romney replicated JFK's theme of privatization while still celebrating the public benefits of religion in general--something Kennedy didn't feel the need to dwell on.

Massa's account of JFK's Houston speech in a 1997 issue of the Journal of Church and State remains one of the best commentaries on that historical moment and a brilliant account of JFK's role in the privatization of religion.


TOPICS: Current Events; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: jfk; presidency; religion

1 posted on 03/07/2012 6:49:25 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

SOME SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN JFK AND ROMNEY:

In JFK’s case, the Catholic church is based in Rome, Italy. In Romney’s case, his church, which professes to be only true church on the face of the earth, is based in Salt Lake City, UT, USA.

In JFK’s case, Catholics don’t, as Mormons do, make sacred covenants to consecrate all that they have (time, talents, resources) to their church... and do so in the most sacred places, their temples.


2 posted on 03/07/2012 6:51:02 AM PST by SeekAndFind (question)
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To: SeekAndFind

JFK was trying to defuse anti Catholic prejudice - within his own party. Plus the Kennedys were a totally immoral family. Still are.


3 posted on 03/07/2012 7:03:03 AM PST by Williams (Honey Badger Don't Care)
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To: SeekAndFind

Given recent events, it should be obvious that the Catholic Church has something to fear when a protestant is in charge.

Yet protestants are not quizzed about the extent to which they practice their religion.


4 posted on 03/07/2012 7:08:30 AM PST by fruser1
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To: SeekAndFind
JFK's privatized religion (Is it possible for a President's religion to have no influence at all?)

I have no interest in a "Christian" leader whose faith in God is so weak that he does not allow it to influence his decisions in life or in his work. One of the most disgusting and destructive comments in American politics was Kennedy's case that his faith would have no effect on how he governed. Having seen far too much of Kennedy's personal life, I'm not surprised, since it didn't affect anything else in his life either, but I'm still disappointed in the sentiment he expressed and the support it received.

5 posted on 03/07/2012 7:08:58 AM PST by Pollster1 (Natural born citizen of the USA, with the birth certificate to prove it)
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To: Williams

The question still remains — is it at all possible for a religious (EMPHASIS) President to NOT AT ALL be influenced by the moral teachings of his religion?


6 posted on 03/07/2012 7:09:07 AM PST by SeekAndFind (question)
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To: SeekAndFind
Saying as President that you would not be bound in public policy by any religious “oath, ritual or obligation” is quite different from saying you have no personal religious morality or conviction that would influence your stance on public policy.
7 posted on 03/07/2012 7:13:15 AM PST by allmendream (Tea Party did not send the GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Considering that he had sex with 1,000 women or more, as president, I can say that a president’s religion may have no effect upon him at all.


8 posted on 03/07/2012 7:16:47 AM PST by Jonty30 (What Islam and secularism have in common is that they are both death cults.)
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To: SeekAndFind

The question is such wide scope, it’s b.s.. Be more specific.

Is it possible for a president that loves their family to not at all be influenced by their family?

So we should scrutinize the family of all candidates, yes?


9 posted on 03/07/2012 7:17:55 AM PST by fruser1
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To: fruser1

Explain please.

“Recent events”?

As you know - you have to go back some 4 years ago when the last protestant was in charge.

So, what exactly is/was there to fear from a protestant?


10 posted on 03/07/2012 7:19:17 AM PST by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This mean Liberals and/or Libertarians (Same Thing) NO LIBS.))
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To: Responsibility2nd

The recent event of note is the administration’s attempt to force catholic hospitals and schools to use insurance that provides abortion and birth control coverage.


11 posted on 03/07/2012 7:22:03 AM PST by fruser1
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To: fruser1

OK, but that has NOTHING to do with a Protestant being in charge.

Obama is a Muslim. He was born and brought up in Islam. And IF you believe that he is now a Christian, then he is now following a doctine about as dangerous as Islam - Black Liberation Theology.


12 posted on 03/07/2012 7:42:40 AM PST by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This mean Liberals and/or Libertarians (Same Thing) NO LIBS.))
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To: allmendream

RE: quite different from saying you have no personal religious morality or conviction that would influence your stance on public policy.

___________________________

I get what you mean.

All I am saying is I don’t think we can separate a president’s personal moral convictions from his decision making.

Let’s take a specific example — ABORTION.

President X is now president. He is also a devout Catholic who believes that abortion ( as the church teaches it ), is the killing of an innocent human being.

A law is eventually presented before him to OUTLAW the practice because it is the duty of governments to protect innocent human lives.

How Should his morality inform his decision?

Same question applies to a President Y who is atheist or agnostic. In which case, I believe, his morality is self-derived ( i.e., he gets to decide what is right or wrong for himself ).


13 posted on 03/07/2012 7:46:53 AM PST by SeekAndFind (question)
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To: SeekAndFind

In the 1960s, one of the hysterical issues surrounding JFK was his Catholicism. Opponents claimed that if JFK were elected, America would by ruled by the Vatican and the Pope.

IOW, JFK would become a mere figurehead. Fortunately, that argument didn’t fly and JFK was elected. I say fortunately because I liked him personally, although I wasn’t old enough and didn’t understand the politics of the time.

Religion became a major issue in the 60’s because our choice was between JFK, the catholic, or R.M. Nixon, the Quaker. It is ironic that, in America, the country that was founded on religious freedom, religion seems to be an ongoing issue. I can understand the issue about Islam; it doesn’t support or endorse any of the Judeo-Christian values that America has traditionally followed. But, the Mormons, while an offshoot of Christianity, do follow the basic tenets of Judeo-Christian teachings.

This DOESN’T meant that I support or endorse Mitt Romney. I don’t. I’m just making a point that, morte than 400 years after America was founded on religious freedom, we are still fighting over religious freedom


14 posted on 03/07/2012 7:47:37 AM PST by DustyMoment (Congress - Another name for white collar criminals!!)
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To: Responsibility2nd
>> As you know - you have to go back some 4 years ago when the last protestant was in charge. <<

But as you know, Obama CLAIMED to be a member of a Protestant church (the United Church of Christ) for years, and was never questioned questioned about the extent of his religious involvement. That's why the Jemimah Wright controversy was a shocker when it was uncovered in the middle of the RAT Presidential primaries.

15 posted on 03/07/2012 7:48:14 AM PST by BillyBoy (Illegals for Perry/Gingrich 2012 : Don't be "heartless"/ Be "humane")
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To: DustyMoment

Religion became a major issue in the 60’s because our choice was between JFK, the catholic, or R.M. Nixon, the Quaker.

Aren’t Quakers pacifists? Yet Nixon DID wage war (for a time) against the Vietcongs.


16 posted on 03/07/2012 7:50:01 AM PST by SeekAndFind (question)
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To: fruser1

“And no religious test shall be given.” Unless you’re a Catholic.


17 posted on 03/07/2012 8:08:42 AM PST by massgopguy (I owe everything to George Bailey)
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To: SeekAndFind
I lived in the same dorm as Father Massa at Fordham. He's written a few books on this subject:

Anti-Catholicism in America: The Last Acceptable Prejudice

Catholics and American Culture: Fulton Sheen, Dorothy Day, and the Notre Dame Football Team
18 posted on 03/07/2012 8:19:54 AM PST by m16zspace
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To: fruser1
So we should scrutinize the family of all candidates, yes?

Yes. A closer scrutiny of Hillary's Alinskyite tendencies and dirty dealings (Whitewater, for instance) and Michelle's corrupt Chicago connections might have shed more light on the type of "First Couples" the country would be getting.

And I've wondered whether George Bush's indifferent attitude toward the pro-lifers who helped him gain office might have been influenced by his wife, mother, and daughters, who seem to be pro-abortion.

19 posted on 03/07/2012 8:21:47 AM PST by BlatherNaut
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To: SeekAndFind
How about a different example. Eating meat on a Friday. As a Catholic he might personally obey the (now rescinded) Church about not eating meat on Friday. That is his own personal obligation. He would not be obligated, as President, to ensure that every American doesn't eat meat on Friday.

He would be obligated, as a Catholic, to obey the Pope on matters of his own personal faith and morality. He would not be obligated, as a matter of public policy, in enforcing that personal faith and morality upon other citizens - all of whom have freedom of conscience.

20 posted on 03/07/2012 8:43:21 AM PST by allmendream (Tea Party did not send the GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism.)
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To: allmendream

Meat on Friday is a peripheral issue because it does not touch the issue of life and death.

In this sense, a Catholic President cannot “impose” (for want of a better word) such a rule on others.

Abortion on the other hand is different. It transcends religion and is a constitutional one. In this case, you HAVE TO IMPOSE some sort of morality on someone.

You HAVE TO follow some sort of morality whether it is informed by your religion or not.


21 posted on 03/07/2012 8:50:37 AM PST by SeekAndFind (question)
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To: SeekAndFind
Well then, how about contraception? That certainly touches on the issue of life and death.

If a Catholic President chooses not to use birth control because of the dictates of his religion - good for him. If a Catholic President feels it is his place to lecture us on the evils of contraception - nuts to him, most people don't want to hear it. If a Catholic President feels there is a compelling government interest in regulating or forbidding contraception because his religion teaches it is wrong - that is not consistent with conservatism and the idea of a government of limited and enumerated powers where the citizen is sovereign and we all have freedom of conscience.

22 posted on 03/07/2012 8:56:57 AM PST by allmendream (Tea Party did not send the GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism.)
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To: allmendream
As a Catholic he might personally obey the (now rescinded) Church about not eating meat on Friday. (sic)

It's an urban legend perpetrated by the ignorant that of the discipline abstaining from eating meat on Friday has been rescinded.

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

23 posted on 03/07/2012 9:40:08 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro is a Kenyan communist)
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To: SeekAndFind

Kennedy’s religion was private affairs, not Catholicism.


24 posted on 03/07/2012 9:42:17 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro is a Kenyan communist)
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To: A.A. Cunningham

Apparently this “ignorant” Archbishop spoke of “reintroducing” the practice - widely abandoned after a relaxing of the prohibition (outlining other methods of observance that could be performed) in 1984.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1386818/Archbishop-Vincent-Nichols-tells-Catholic-faithful-dont-eat-meat-Fridays.html


25 posted on 03/07/2012 10:13:58 AM PST by allmendream (Tea Party did not send the GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism.)
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To: allmendream

The term “Episcopal Conference” sailed over your head. I suggest you sit up higher in your chair so reality doesn’t fly so far over grape.


26 posted on 03/07/2012 10:29:01 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro is a Kenyan communist)
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To: A.A. Cunningham
I guess the reality that the relaxation of the prohibition in 1984, leading to the practice no longer being widely observed, sailed right over your head.

Besides which this is just a distraction from the topic.

A total ban on eating meat on Fridays was rescinded in 1984, in favor of a more ‘relaxed’ standard that other observances could be substituted.

That is the truth, sorry if it upsets you.

27 posted on 03/07/2012 10:44:26 AM PST by allmendream (Tea Party did not send the GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism.)
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To: fruser1

Protestants vote Republican they don’t care that their candidates are Catholics.

Catholics vote Democrat, and the Democrat party evidently fears Christianity.


28 posted on 03/07/2012 11:10:20 AM PST by ansel12 (Santorum-Catholic and "I was basically pro-choice all my life, until I ran for Congress" he said))
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To: massgopguy

Gingrich is being submitted to a “religious test” ?


29 posted on 03/07/2012 11:12:11 AM PST by ansel12 (Santorum-Catholic and "I was basically pro-choice all my life, until I ran for Congress" he said))
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To: SeekAndFind

I don’t think the JFK criticism will make much waves after one of his female interns published a “tell it all” book about their affair, including the fact he got her an abortion.


30 posted on 03/07/2012 8:57:06 PM PST by LadyDoc
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