My How Times Have Changed

From the memory hole, John F. Kennedy on Sept. 12, 1960:

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 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 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.


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.

Kennedy gave this speech during the 1960 campaign because conservatives were fearmongering about his Catholic faith. They tried to tell voters that a President Kennedy would answer to the Pope instead of the American people and the United States Congress.

My how times have changed. Now we have a bunch of Catholic bishops trying to tell the president what to do, and a bunch of Republicans foamy-mouthed because he won’t obey them.

Good thing we banned that Sharia Law stuff, amiright? Can’t imagine what our Muslim president would do if something pissed off an ayatolla or two. And I’m sure our Republicans would be totally okay with that, right?


Filed under birth control, Christian Right, culture wars

4 responses to “My How Times Have Changed

  1. Excellent.
    I just shared this link on the facebook group,
    Supporting the Removal of the Cranston High School West Prayer….

    The high school in question is in.Rhode Island.

  2. John Weiss

    What don’t these ‘religious’ folks get? Government is supposed to be, in our way of doing things, separate from religion. Thus preserving one from the other. Simple enough, I think. Churches get all sorts of breaks from taxation, but they must follow the law of the land. They don’t get to meddle with secular law. As I said, pretty simple.

    Pray and do your various rituals on your own time, not on our time.
    What these ‘religious’ types don’t seem to get is these constitutional are for their protection as well as protection for the rest of us. They blur the separation at their peril.

  3. Dave W

    On the flip side of that coin, the Government is not supposed to stick it’s nose in the churches business. The current Admin has been pushing the3 1st Amendment to it’s limit. And now, the 1st Amendment is starting to push back. There is a separation that both sides need to respect.

    • Well, the churches had an exemption from day one. This debate applies to major institutional employers operating in the secular sphere, whose employees are not all Catholic, nor even especially religious. Neither, for that matter, are the people they serve at these institutions. On top of that, these institutions all get public money.

      The more the church as an institution tries to push back on these issues the more they lessen their influence. Exhibit A: the major Catholic hospital chain severing its ties with the Catholic Church for purely business reasons:

      The changes, which executives announced today, underscore the unique challenges facing Catholic hospitals in the marketplace, where there are tremendous financial pressures for hospitals to merge or form formal alliances with other health care providers in order to survive and thrive. The change will have no effect on any patients or the medical care provided at the 25 Catholic and 15 secular hospitals in the system. But executives hope it will make it easier to merge or affiliate with other hospitals, doctors’ practices and other health care providers.

      Recently we had Belmont University sever its ties with the Southern Baptist Convention for the same reason: the church’s influence (which included mandatory church attendance and Bible study, for example) hampered their growth.

      The problem is, the more church officials scream and holler about stuff like birth control, the less anyone wants to have anything to do with them. And that’s a problem when they’re trying to play with the big boys. They could recognize they lost the culture wars back in the 70s and focus instead on their mission, or alternately stay true to their antiquated principles on these cultural issues and just serve a smaller, like-minded constituency. Or they can do what they appear to be doing: severing their ties with their churches.

      How this is supposed to help the church, I have no idea.

      The reality that church people need to face is that we are living in a post-Chrisitan America. That’s just fact, and we aren’t going back. That means church and religion are no longer the focus of American life. Anyone questioning that just needs to go to Cracker Barrel on Sunday morning and see all the people lining up for biscuits and gravy. In my mother’s day, every business would be closed on Sundays and everyone would be in church.

      A final thought on this issue: this is yet another downside of having an employer-based health insurance system. Some of us were trying to get a healthcare system that’s not connected to your employment status, you know some kind of socialized healthcare system but noooooo everyone told us what a BAD thing that would be. So don’t come crying to me.

      You know really all we’ve heard from conservatives since Obama got elected was why we CAN’T CHANGE ANYTHING, like everything was so freaking awesome and wonderful before and let’s just preserve everything in amber or something. Which is ridiculous.