Catholicism and American politics: then and now
50 years ago:
“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 a 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.” — President John F. Kennedy, in a 1960 speech, assuring Southern Baptist leaders that as the nation’s first Catholic president, he would not take orders from the Pope.
“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country… To say people of faith have no role in the public square, you bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live in that says only people of non-faith can come in the public square and make their case. That makes me throw up and it should make every American.” — Rick Santorum, today, on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.