Fifty-three years ago, John F. Kennedy stood before an audience in Houston, Texas and delivered, what was at the time, the single most important speech of his political career. It wasn’t about civil rights or national security or foreign policy, and it wasn’t about putting a man on the moon (that speech was also delivered in Houston, two years later).
His speech was about his religion, Roman Catholicism.
Kennedy was only the second Catholic in American history to become the Presidential nominee of a major political party. (Al Smith, who lost to Herbert Hoover in 1928, was the first, and John Kerry, who lost to George W. Bush in 2004, was the third). Kennedy’s Catholic faith was, understandably, considered to be a huge political vulnerability.
For one, the United States has a history of anti-Catholic bigotry and discrimination. Catholics…
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