LATELY — 5 June 2004

JFK and the separation of church and state

A Hendrik Hertzberg piece in the New Yorker contains this quote from JFK (who was seeking to reassure voters that as a President who was also Catholic, he would not take instruction from the Vatican):

“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 a Catholic) how to act and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners 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 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 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.”


Hertzberg piece finishes with: “With a bit of spiffing up for gender-pronoun correctness, it is just barely possible to imagine such a speech being delivered today by Senator Kerry. Could the same be said of President Bush?”