Sunday, April 18, 2004

Celebrating the legacy of Jefferson and Kennedy
This is a couple of days old, but I haven’t seen anyone else bring it up, so I will.
DENVER (AP) A Roman Catholic priest caused a stir on the House floor Tuesday when he urged lawmakers to let religious faith guide their votes and "be the antithesis of John Kennedy."

While delivering the chamber's morning prayer, the Rev. Bill Carmody said too many politicians have followed the example of the nation's first Catholic president by pledging to separate their faith from politics.

Carmody called on lawmakers of all faiths to vote their convictions even if it costs them elections.

"Almighty God, please change and convert the hearts of all the representatives in this House. May they be the antithesis of John Kennedy, may they be women and men of God and may their faith influence and guide every vote they make. May God bless this chamber and our state," he said.

I suppose attacking the separation of church and state was just Father Carmody’s way of celebrating Thomas Jefferson’s birthday (old Tom turned 261 the day before). Aside from the issue of Carmody breaching the wall of separation (does there seem to be more of this kind of right wing scolding invocations happening lately, or am I just noticing it?), Carmody is showing a phenomenal ignorance the history of anti-Catholic bias in this country. Prior to Kennedy, Catholics were among the strongest defenders of the wall of separation, because, as a minority religion, any injection of religion into politics was usually to their detriment. In many parts of the country a Black woman had a better chance of getting elected to office than did a Catholic. Just by acting secular for his thousand days in office, Kennedy almost single handedly ended that disability. The Black woman needed a lot longer to get anything like a fair hearing in this country (if she even is yet).

Carmody denied his historical ignorance.
[Carmody] acknowledged that Kennedy faced opposition because he was Catholic but said he should have stood up for his beliefs. "This bigotry would have died eventually and we wouldn't have politicians who abdicate their faith to be politicians."

I suppose I should take him at his word and accept that he isn’t ignorant. I’ll just assume he’s a hypocrite. I’ll also give Americans United the final word:
Kennedy's viewpoint was in keeping with the bedrock principle of church-state separation that is fundamental to American democracy. Kennedy believed "in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute." To JFK, America is a place "where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference." His is a legacy that should be emulated, not condemned.

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