John F Kennedy And The Religious Test For Office

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. Though in November, book publishers are already releasing new works on an already saturated market.

Reading the linked to article in the New Republic above made me revisit JFK’s religious freedom speech. The video includes introductions, worth listening for the context that his Catholicism was used by some as a reason not to vote for him. His speech starts just after the 3 minute mark, and is worth ten minutes of your time to listen to.

    “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.”

Religious freedom is still an issue whether building a mosque in New York, a religious public symbol for 9/11, or the Mormonism of a Presidential candidate.

I did post about how it was being emphasised that Obama really was not a Christian but Romney really believed in everything Mormonism said here. I’m going to be less equivocal now.

No one, including atheists, should be advocating a religious test for public office. The constitution should be upheld by not just the President who swears to defend it, but by all citizens too. Should anyone wish to subvert the constitution let them put forward an amendment as part of the democratic process, so we can both debate and expose the threat to the Bill of Rights.

    National Atheist Party Reborn

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The “National Atheist Party” has voted to change it’s name to “Secular Party of America”. Note the emphasise on attracting non atheists to the secular movement.

The name bothered me too, as I mentioned when their leader resigned unexpectedly after two years. This seems like the organisation restructuring itself for the better. My criticism still holds for a minority party:

    So my advice to the 8,000 members that they lay claim to is that promoting secularism should not be a fringe political party movement. Rather, you need to influence the two main parties on the national stage: Democrat or Republican (yes I said that) as party members. Or, you could try for yourself as independents.

    There are huge issues that need tackling at home and abroad: economic growth, employment, poverty, the environment, human rights, international security, homeland security, health care, education and the constitution (to name a few). A one issue party, and in this case an only atheist party membership, is doomed never to be taken seriously or have the impact on secularism that is needed in the political arena.

For me pressure groups are the better way for promoting the secular movement.

As ever, Mr Jefferson build up that wall.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

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1 Comment

Filed under America, atheism, politics, secular

One response to “John F Kennedy And The Religious Test For Office

  1. EDIT: Of course I meant “less equivocal” not “more”

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