01:29:08 - 01:34:06
Sept, 12, 1960 Address of Senator John F. Kennedy to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. JFK says there are greater issues than that of his Catholic faith, calling attention to the spread of communism around the world (especially in Cuba), the mistreatment of American officials in former allied countries, domestic poverty, the elderly, our slow progress into the space race, etc. C/A shots of Mr. Kennedy, accompanied by wife JACQUELINE KENNEDY, on campaign trail. MSs of men speaking at a meeting of Southern ministers, "Please understand that this is not a political rally. This is a meeting of the Association of ministers. And we rely upon your sense for good order, proper respect for the nominee to the highest office of our land, and good Christain behavior generally." Another gentleman, "Contrary to common propaganda, the South is not a hotbed of religious or racial intolerance. There are many honest minds that are raising honest questions. Many Catholics differ with us on many questions that are relevant to the wellfare of our country. The fact that the Senator is with us tonight is to concede that a religious issues does exist. It is because there are many serious minds, decently raising questions that we have invited the speaker of the evening. It is for that same reason that we have allowed this meeting to be broadcast. To that end, I would like to introduce at this time, the Senator from MAssachuetts and the Democratic canidate for the President of teh United States, Senator John F Kennedy." JFK assumes podium to deliver speech, "Reverend Meza, Reverend Reck, I'm grateful for your generous invitation to speak my views. While the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the chief topic here tonight, I want to emphasize from the outset that I believe that we have far more critical issues in the 1960 campaign; the spread of Communist influence, until it now festers 90 miles off the coast of Florida, the humiliating treatment of our President and Vice President by those who no longer respect our power, the hungry children I saw in West Virginia, the old people who cannot pay their doctor bills, the families forced to give up their farms, an America with too many slums, with too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space. These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues, for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barriers. But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured--perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again--not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me, but what kind of America I believe in. 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 parishoners 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 helped 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."