JFK Perfectly Understood The Separation Of Church And State (VIDEO)

By Sarah | 9 May 2015
Addicting Info

As only the second Catholic to run for presidential office in a majority Protestant nation, John F. Kennedy was confronted with the issue of his religion throughout his campaign. In order to defuse concerns that his religious views would interfere with his ability as chief executive, he delivers a speech on September 12, 1960, to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association stressing the importance of the separation of church and state. (Credit: U.S. Embassy New Delhi / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0)

Listening to Republican candidate after candidate go on and on about how much they love God is all well and good, but when they plan to use it in the way they govern, well, that is in direct violation of the United States Constitution.

So many conservatives are adamant about restricting the implementation of Sharia Law here in the United States. Which, if they actually were “Constitutional Conservatives,” they would understand that Sharia Law could never be implemented here, and in the same regard, neither can Christian Law. It says so right there in the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

No one religion can rule a secular society where freedom of religion is one of the main reasons the United States was formed in the first place. That’s why that amendment was written. No religion can control an entire populace. However, people of any religion, including Christianity, are allowed the “free exercise” of their beliefs on their own time. However, no one religion can reign supreme.

One president in particular, eloquently shared his views on just this subject while he was a presidential candidate. Then candidate John F. Kennedy, while making remarks to the Houston Ministerial Association in 1960, made sure that people knew that yes, he was Catholic, but no, his faith has nothing to do with leading a nation.

He said:

“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.

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 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 apart 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.

I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party candidate for president who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters — and the Church does not speak for me.”

In a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people — for ALL people, it is important to remember these words that JFK spoke more than a half a century ago. If one is to lead a nation, they must recognize the faiths, or even lack there of, of those they are elected to lead. No preferential treatment can be given in a free society. And one would think those who boast “Freedom” the most would understand this concept the best.

Video/Featured image via JFK Library

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  1. joe biden, also a catholic, said it during the vice presidential debates. he basically said in answer to a question about his religion, that his religious beliefs are private and that those beliefs do not determine how he runs the government. i was impressed because he truly understood the separation of church and state. todays republicans are not christians, i believe i would use the term arrogant bastards, men and women who preach god and christianity yet do not follow the tenets of their god or their religion.

  2. Theocracy is the objective!

    America is supposed to be a Democratic Republic – where all Peoples are equal equally!!

    A theocracy is tyranny …..
    and We, the People, have the right to overthrow a tyranny!


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