JFK and MR -- by JOHN FEA

JFK Speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association

Sunday night CSPAN’s “Road to the White House” ran Kennedy’s September 12, 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. (You can also watch it at American Rhetoric) This speech, for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, is JFK’s attempt to put to rest the notion that one could be a faithful Catholic and a faithful American president. Interest in this speech, of course, has been revived in light of similar questions about Mitt Romney’s Mormonism.

I have read the speech before, but never seen the footage. The Houston Protestant clergymen grilling Kennedy in the Q&A portion is worth your time. What a wonderful teaching tool.


Anonymous said…
Thanks for the link.

I can't yet understand how Romney benefits from giving a major speech a la Kennedy. Kennedy went to Houston to proclaim his belief in the strict separation of church and state (his religion wouldn't really impact his presidency) and basically to present himself as a victim of anti-Catholic bigotry. Romney can't do that and simultaneously appeal to a Republican Party that wants candidates to articulate how their faith affects their policy beliefs.

Yet he also can't in any thorough way talk about how his Mormon faith affects his politics without reminding potential voters that Mormonism is different from traditionally Protestant Christianity. So the best Romney can do is: 1) complain about anti-Mormonism; 2) keep mentioning Jesus as his personal savior; 3) talk about how his religion emphasizes family values.

I think the above quandary explains why Romney's advisors aren't encouraging him to give "the speech." Plus, there's no way that the media wouldn't portray Romney's speech negatively vis-a-vis Kennedy's.

Popular Posts