Monday, October 25, 2010

Religion and Politics Don't Mix Well-Nor Should They

A few thoughts about Religion in our Politics:

In 1960 in West Virginia, I covered one of the most important presidential primaries in our history, that of John F. Kennedy versus Hubert Humphrey; the "primary that made a president" as some have dubbed it. For in a state that was at that time 95% Protestant, the Catholic Kennedy won overwhelmingly.

Some thought that had put the issue of religious intolerance to rest; it hadn't, but it helped. JFK fought religious discrimination in almost every primary after that, but its importance as a campaign issue was diminishing. His eloquent speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association was replayed throughout the nation during his fall campaign.

Here's an excerpt, and a point he made being overlooked today..."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.."

Ironically, in the years since, we have grown more tolerant of Catholic candidates; there have been a slew for President after all, with hardly an outcry from anyone....but we have had a slew and a half of Protestant ministers telling their parishioners how to vote; especially ministers from the religious right.

To me, this is just as intolerant as those who opposed JFK because some (quite wrongly) thought his Catholicism threatened our democracy.

Is religion important in a person's life? Of course it is. Should it matter in an election campaign? 99% of the time, I say no.

I am appalled by the extent and manner in which religion has been injected into our Senatorial campaign--by both sides. In the voting booth I will cast a vote on the issue stands both men have stated-- not "Paul believes in Aqua Buddha" or "Conway is challenging my faith."

In that way I hope to give this type of Religion In Politics another type of R.I.P.

I’m Just Sayin…..

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