In 1960, John F. Kennedy ran for President. John F. Kennedy was Catholic. In our long history, only one other Catholic won a party’s nomination for President before Kennedy. That was Al Smith who lost big-time. When Kennedy won the primary for the Democratic nomination, the protestant population had a fit.
The argument ran that if Kennedy was a Catholic, he would disregard the Constitution in favor of his Church’s teachings. This, according to the protestants was not only wrong and dangerous, but also treasonous. How could a Catholic protect the rights of non-Catholics if he followed the teachings of the Pope?
Kennedy was forced to give a speech telling the American people that he was first and foremost an American. He assured the population that he would not abandon the Constitution in order to follow his church’s teachings. He said that although he was a Catholic, his faith would not dictate his handling of the Constitution and the rights it afforded.
In 1960, Kennedy won a very hotly contested election against Richard Nixon. Some on the Republican side even called it controversial. In either case, Kennedy won over the majority of the people with his I am an American first speech.
Today, we are facing a similar problem. At last count, there are 16 people running for President on the Republican side. Every one of these candidates are in step with the “conservative social agenda” of the Republican Party. In a word, they are instep with a “religious” belief that says their religion trumps the Constitution.
You can look at just about every issue in their “conservative social agenda” and see that they don’t give a hoot about the Constitution. Rather, they believe in their religious teachings as being “superior” to the Constitution. If that was a troubling aspect of the 1960 election involving Kennedy, why isn’t it a troubling aspect of the 2016 election?
The biggest block of the “conservative social agenda” is the anti-abortion stance. The major argument against abortion used by these candidates is that they are “saving the lives of the unborn.” However, the definition of “life” and when it starts is a matter of personal determination.
Conservatives of all religions believe life starts with conception. That is their right to believe that. Others however, believe that life begins much later. Therefore, having an abortion before the time they believe “life” begins is not wrong. Conservatives cannot abide by that definition. Theirs is the only definition they want to allow. This is not based on science, it is based on religious beliefs.
As a result, their stance against abortions is a purely “religious” belief that they think trumps the Constitution and the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. They say your belief of when life begins is wrong. They say you must abide by their religious belief.
The argument against same-sex marriage follows similar lines. The conservatives are constantly claiming that “God” defined marriage as between one man and one women. But, their argument runs out of steam as soon as you realize that polygamy was a standard practice among the ancient Jews. Especially the “royals” of the ancient Jews. If marriage was defined by “God” as between one man and one woman, why were so many kings of the Jews married to so many women at the same time?
Also, if they truly believe that God defined marriage as between one man and one woman, and that their religious marriage ceremony ends with the words: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder,” how can they defend divorce and remarriage? How is it that the state should recognize remarriage as being “legal” with all the rights defined in by law?
If conservatives really believe in what they are preaching, shouldn’t people who are divorced and remarried to someone else be denied the same rights they want to deny same-sex couples? Shouldn’t inheritance of a second spouse be taxed as if that person was not a spouse? Shouldn’t companies deny health coverage to that second spouse since they aren’t really married? Isn’t divorce and remarriage an attack against “traditional marriage?”
Let us assume for just one minute that these Republican Candidates really believe what they are saying. Let us for just one minute believe that these candidates are really that “religious.” Shouldn’t that make the rest of us ask them the same questions that Kennedy faced? Shouldn’t that make the rest of us believe that they will disregard the Constitution anytime they believe it conflicts with their religious beliefs?
The Constitution is very clear in its stance of the separation of church and state. It even says you cannot force people to make a religious commitment to hold office. Yet, all of these Republican Candidates are trying to do just that. They are trying to force religion down our throats. They are trying to use their “religious beliefs” as a rallying cry to openly deny civil rights to those who don’t follow their teachings.
The biggest difference between these candidates and Kennedy is that Kennedy never used his religion as a reason for his election. Each of these candidates are pandering to specific religious sects in order to get their votes. They are openly defying the basic principle of the separation of church and state.
That alone should be enough to disqualify every one of them from holding the office of President. It is very obvious that these candidates are not interested in “Protecting the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Rather they are all in favor of eliminating the Constitution from our lives. Only their beliefs matter. If you think differently, you lose!
I predict that if any of these Republicans win in November 2016, and their wacko friends are still in control of Congress, you will one day be walking down the street and a man in a leather coat will walk up and say “papers please.” Forcing your religion on everyone else cannot be successful without real control over people’s lives. That may be “religiously” acceptable, but it is unconstitutional.