This otherwise-attractive presidential candidate, according to the pundits, could never get elected. No one of his religious faith had ever come close, and opinion polls showed that millions might vote against him just because of the church to which he belonged.
The successful Massachusetts politician brought those concerns with him to Salt Lake City, home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
There he poured out his heart in a moving speech of thanks and praise to the Mormons for overcoming religious bigotry by “having proven to the Nation . . . that a public servant devout in his chosen faith was still capable of undiminished allegiance to our Constitution and national interest.”
Thus spoke soon-to-be-president Roman Catholic U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy on Sept. 23, 1960, in the famed Mormon Tabernacle.
A similar message came 47 years later from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in defense of his Mormon religion, the faith of his fathers, on Dec. 6, 2007.
The most important thing to know about this Romney-JFK nexus, however, is that while serving as Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney in 2004 ran for U.S. Senate against JFK’s youngest brother Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy.
After an early poll showed incumbent Democrat Kennedy losing to bright young Republican Romney by 44 percent to 42 percent, Kennedy’s operatives unleashed a vile, relentless below-the-radar smear campaign attacking Romney’s Mormon faith.
Sen. Kennedy today represents a loony left political party sunk to depths of depravity, dishonesty, and hate-politics lower than anything John or Robert Kennedy would recognize as their Democratic Party.
Brace yourself, because if Mitt Romney becomes the Republican presidential standard-bearer, all the filth, lies, and dirty tricks Ted Kennedy used in 1994 to trash Mormonism in Massachusetts will be spread nationwide, like toxic waste, by today’s Democratic Party.
“Prophet Joseph Smith not only declared in ringing tones: ‘We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience,’” John F. Kennedy told the Tabernacle audience. “He also set forth the belief that all men should be allowed ‘the same privilege. Let them worship how, where, or what they may.’”
“We truly heed the command which Brigham Young heard from the Lord more than a century ago . . .,” concluded John F. Kennedy to these Mormon listeners, “the command he conveyed to his little band of followers: ‘Go as pioneers . . . to a land of peace.’”
Many Protestants voiced concerns that as a Roman Catholic John F. Kennedy might “take orders” from the Pope. Tales persist to this day that JFK’s father Joseph Kennedy Sr., secretly wrote to the Vatican to pledge that his son, if elected president with Catholic church help, would do as the Pope directed.
Like JFK, Romney found it necessary to deny that he would do as his church’s highest council of 12 Apostles, believed by Mormons to speak with divine inspiration, might say.
“Let me assure you,” said Romney, “that no authorities of my church . . . will ever exert influence on [my] presidential decisions . . .”
“We separate church and state affairs in this country . . .,” said Romney. “No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion.”
But Romney had harsh words for those who “seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgement of God,” and who appear “intent on establishing a new religion in America — the religion of secularism.”
“The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion,” said Romney, “but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square . . .”
“Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom . . .,” said Romney. “Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.”
“[America’s] greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests,” said Romney. “I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from ‘the God who gave us liberty.’”
Romney also challenged those who accuse his church of being outside the mainstream Christian theological tradition. “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” said Romney, “and the Savior of mankind.”
Our Constitution forbids any “religious test” to hold political office. But liberal Democrats have already effectively said that believing Roman Catholics “need not apply” for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, lest their religion’s opposition to abortion terminate Roe v. Wade.
Both Romney, a former bishop in his church, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, have come under liberal attack for being too religious.
“If the GOP can be labeled the party of religious conservatives,” wrote Baruch College, City University of New York, professors Louis Bolce and Gerald De Maio in 2003, “the Democrats, with equal validity, can be called the secularist party.”
Of 15 Mormons in Congress, e.g., only three are Democrats — including Senate Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
Democrats, a Harris Poll found, are far less likely than Republicans to believe in heaven, hell, or the devil but far more likely to believe in ghosts, reincarnation, and astrology. Atheists and pagans are far, far more likely to be Democrats.
This religious divide between the two parties will widen if Republicans nominate Romney or Huckabee, and Democrats nominate New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.
The Clinton administration, lest we forget, introduced Pagan-Wiccan chaplains into the U.S. military to minister to the spiritual needs of warriors who worship trees and practice witchcraft.
An FBI agent assigned to the White House claimed that one year Mrs. Clinton decorated her upstairs Christmas tree with sex and drug paraphernalia.
And Mrs. Clinton pressed to have the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission make “religious harassment” a workplace crime comparable to sexual harassment. Had she succeeded, an office manager could be punished merely for wearing a cross or yarmulke or for having a Bible on his or her desk.
The struggle against what JFK called the “godless tyranny” of communism helped reunite Christendom, making allies of Protestants and Catholics. What will come of our partisan political polarization into godly versus godless, Mormons versus Marxists?
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