Religious Tests: Romney and Mormonism
Forty seven years ago while he was running for the presidential election, John F Kennedy so it fit to address an issue that had been bedeviling him for a while, his religion. Mr. Kennedy in that famous speech did not defend his church’s beliefs or discuss its views on policy, but defend that his right – as an American – to run for office irregardless of his religion: “If I should lose on the real issues, I shall return to my seat in the Senate, satisfied that I had tried my best and was fairly judged. But if this election is decided on the basis that 40 million Americans lost their chance of being President on the day they were baptized, then it is the whole nation that will be the loser, in the eyes of Catholics and non-Catholics around the world, in the eyes of history, and in the eyes of our own people.”
The argument made by JFK then, should apply to Mitt Romney today, however Romney should not have to make a speech to justify his candidacy. JFK’s speech should have been enough to quell all future discussions of religious tests: “And in fact this is the kind of America for which our forefathers died--when they fled here to escape religious test oaths that denied office to members of less favored churches--when they fought for the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom--and when they fought at the shrine I visited today, the Alamo. For side by side with Bowie and Crockett died McCafferty and Bailey and Carey--but no one knows whether they were Catholic or not. For there was no religious test at the Alamo.”
Romney should let his record and the “real issues” rule the day; a speech on Mormonism will not assuage that fears of those (a minority) who are concerned about it and may just serve to distract from the real issues of the day.