Election of John F. Kennedy - Timeline Event
In 1960, John F. Kennedy became the first Catholic elected President. His religion played a prominent role during the campaign. Unlike Al Smith, an earlier Catholic candidate, Kennedy was able to overcome suspicions that his faith would impede his ability to successfully govern. Some were concerned that Kennedy would answer to the Pope rather than to the American public and that he would serve as a Catholic first and an American second. Kennedy worked to allay these fears by arguing that while he was a faithful Catholic, his religious identity would not affect his policy positions, that a politician’s faith should not bar him or her from office, and that the religious question was of far less importance than other pressing concerns, namely the threat of Communism and growing poverty. He gave voice to these views most prominently during a September 12, 1960, speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association.
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Video and transcript of John F. Kennedy's September 12, 1960, address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association.
Web Page ContributorWilliam S. Cossen
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History