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tv   Road to the White House John F. Kennedy Address on Church State  CSPAN  August 24, 2021 5:56pm-6:44pm EDT

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first catholic to be elected president of the united states. during the 1960 campaign, many protestant groups publicly opposed senator kennedy, fearing the influence of the pope and the catholic church on his presidency. next on "reel america" democratic candidate john f. kennedy on the topic of church and state, religious freedom and tolerance. he spoke to a meeting of houston ministers. paid for by the kennedy johnson texas campaign committee, the broadcast includes an extended question and answer session, and parts of the film were later used as campaign ads. >> from houston's wright hotel, senator john kennedy is about to address a special meeting to the
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ministerial association to which he has been invited. senator kennedy will participate in an informal question and answer period. the telecast of this meeting is sponsored by the kennedy johnson texas campaign committee and is being seen throughout texas on a special 22 station network. the audience you are seeing is composed of clergymen of the houston area who have been invited by the association. reverend herbert meza will introduce the impact presidential candidate. the meeting is about to be called to order by the president, reverend george reck. >> may i call this special meeting of the association of ministers of greater houston to order? let us stand for prayer. >> god be merciful unto us and bless us and cause his face to shine upon us, that thy way may be known by saving health among all nations.
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god shall bless us and all the ends of the earth shall praise him. with these words, we stand before thee, o god, as our only sovereign lord. forgive us, good lord, and show us thy mercy. do not take that gospel light from us. incline our ears to thee and thy will and show us always the truth that makes and keeps them free. in the name of our lord, jesus christ, we pray, amen. we are very happy that so many of you ministers are present at this meeting. the treasurer of our association, harrison, has wondered to me if some of you would not like to pay your dues
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for this year, which begins with september. i am sure that he will be in the lobby after this session, ready to shake your hand. [ laughter ] >> we are very happy to see so many of you ministers present, and we want this to be a true meeting of the association. under the policy of your executive committee this year, we wish to have as guests, for regular and special meetings, as many personalities of note and reputation as possible. the purpose, of course, is to provide not only a good program, but to give knowledge and enlightenment to the spiritual leaders of our community. thus, a similar invitation was extended by the association to mr. nixon. please understand that this is not a political rally. this is a meeting of the
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association of ministers, and we rely upon your sense for good order, proper respect for the nominee to the highest office of our land, and good christian behavior generally. our little mouse has grown into a lion of significance. this was not been our original intention, but things happen these ways. nevertheless, may the atmosphere be informal here, an informal gathering, and may such that atmosphere be maintained. may i speak a welcome to all of you. i am the reverend herbert mesa, vice president of the association, and our program chairman. >> this program this evening
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does not constitute an endorsement of either the speaker or the party which he represents. the program has been motivated by the religious issues in this campaign, issues that are not modern. there are some who insist that nothing has changed within the roman catholic church, and there are others who insist that nothing should change. the problem is not to deny the religious issue or to grant as intolerant those who raise it. the problem is to place it in proper perspective and to determine where the candidate stands in relationship to that perspective. the extremists on both sides have candidates that dominate the debate. contrary to common propaganda, the south is not a hotbed of religious or racial intolerance.
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there are many honest minds that are raising honest questions. many catholics differ with us on many questions that are relevant to the welfare of our country. the fact that the senator is with us tonight is to concede that a religious issue does exist. it is because there are many serious minds, decently raising questions that we have invited the speaker of the evening. and it is for that same reason that we have allowed this meeting to be broadcast. to that end, i should like to introduce at this time the senator from massachusetts and the democratic candidate for the president of the united states, senator john f. kennedy. [ applause ]
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>> reverend, i am grateful for your generous invitation to state my views. while the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the chief topic here tonight, i want to emphasize from the outset that i believe that we have far more critical issues in the 1960 campaign. the spread of communist influence until it now festers only 90 miles from the coast of florida, the humiliating treatment of our president and vice president by those who no longer respect our power, the hungry children i saw in west virginia, the old people who can not pay their doctors' bills, the families forced to give up their farms, and america with too many slums, with too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space. these are the real issues which should decide this campaign, and
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they are not religious issues. for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barrier. but because i am a catholic and no catholic has ever been elected president, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured, perhaps deliberately in some corners less responsible than this. so it is apparently necessary for me to state, once again, not what kind of church i believe in. for that should be important only to me, but what kind of america i believe in. i believe in an america where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no catholic person would tell the president, should he be catholic, how to act, and no protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote, where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference,
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and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him. i believe in an america that is officially neither catholic, protestant, nor jewish, where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the pope, the national council of churches, or any other e, where no body seeks to impose its will, directly or indirectly, upon the general populus or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all. while this year it may be a catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been and may
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some day be again a jew or a quaker or a unitarian, or a baptist. it was virginia's harassment of baptist preachers, for example, that led to jefferson's statute of religious freedom. today i may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you. until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped apart at a time of great national peril. finally, i believe in an american where religious intolerance will someday end, where all men and all churches are treated as equals. for every man has the same right to attend or not to attend the church of his choice, for there is no catholic vote, no anti-catholic vote, no block voting of any kind, and where catholics, protestants, and jews, at all levels, will refrain from those attitudes
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disdain and division which have marred works in the past, and instead promote brotherhood. that is the kind of america in which i believe and it represents the kind of presidency in which i believe. a great office that must be neither humbled by making it the instrument of any religious group, nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding occupancy from the members of any one religious group. i believe in a president whose views on religion are his own private affair, neither imposed upon him by the nation, nor imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office. i would not look with favor upon a president working to subvert the first amendment, guarantee the religious liberty. nor would our system of checks and balances permit him to do so. and neither do i look with favor
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upon those who would work to subvert article 6 of the constitution, by requiring a religious test, even by indirection, or if they disagree with that safeguard, they should be openly working to repeal it. i want a chief executive whose public acts are responsible to all and obligated to none. who can attend any ceremony, service or dinner, his office may appropriately require him to fulfill, and whose fulfillment of his presidential office is not limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual or obligation. this is the kind of america i believe in. and this is the kind of america i fought for in the south pacific and the kind my brother died for in europe. no one suggested then that we might have a divided loyalty, that we did not believe in liberty, or that we belonged to a disloyal group that
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threatened, i quote, the freedom or which our forefathers died. in fact, this is the kind of america for which our forefathers did die. when they fled here to escape offices that denied members to other churches, when they fought for the constitution, the bill of rights, the virginia statute of religious freedom, and when they fought at the shrine i visited add, the alamo. side by side was bowie crockett and bailey and carey, but no one knows whether they were catholic or not for there was no religious test there. i ask you tonight to follow in that tradition, to judge me on the basis of 14 years in the congress, on my declared stands against an amazon to the vatican, against unconstitutional aid to parochial schools and against any boycott of the public schools, which i attended
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myself. and instead of doing this, do not judge me on the basis of these pamphlets and publications we see that carefully select quotations out of context from the statements of catholic church leaders, usually in other countries, frequently in other centuries, and rarely relevant to any situation here. and always admitting, of course, the statement of the american bishops in 1948, which strongly endorsed church/state separation, and reflects the views of almost every american catholic. i do not consider these other quotations binding upon my public acts. why should you? >> but let me say with respect to other countries that i am wholly opposed to the state being used by any religious group, catholic or protestant, to prosecute the free exercise
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of any other religion, and that goes for any persecution at any time, by anyone, in any country. and i hope that you and i condemn with equal ferver those nations which deny catholics and protestants. and rather than cite the misdeeds of those who differ, i would also cite the record of the catholic church in such nations as france and ireland and the independence of others. but let me stress again that these are my views. for contrary to common newspaper usage, i am not the catholic candidate for president. i am the democratic party's candidate for president, who happens, also, to be a catholic. i do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me. whatever issue may come before me as president, if i should be elected, on birth control,
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divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject, i will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscious tells me to be in the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressure or dictates, and no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise. but if the time should ever come, and i do not concede any conflict to be remotely possible, when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then i would resign the office, and i hope any other conscientious public servant would do likewise. but i do not intend to apologize to these views to my critics of catholic or protestant faith, nor do i intend to disavow my views or my church in order to
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win this election. if i should lose on the real issues, i shall return to my seat in the senate, satisfied that i 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. but if, on the other hand, i should win this election, then i shall devote every effort of mind and spirit to fulfilling the oath of the presidency, practically identical, i might add, with the oath i have taken for 14 years in the congress. for without reservation, i can, and i quote, solemnly swear that i will faithfully execute the office of president of the united states and will, to the best of my ability, preserve,
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protect and defend the constitution, so help me god. [ applause ] >> gentlemen. due to the press of time, we should begin immediately with a question and answer period. you know the ground rules. are there any questions? >> i think i speak for many that do not in any sense discount or in any sense doubt our loyalty and love to this nation. your position is in regard to our position for separation of church and state. but tonight it's two men of
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nearly equal age facing each other. if this meeting tonight were being held in the sanctuary of my church, it's the policy in my city of catholic leadership to forbid them to attend a protestant service. if we tonight were in the sanctuary of my church just as we are, would you and could you attend? >> yes, i could. i can attend any -- as i said in my statement, i would attend any service in the interest that had any connection with any public office, or in the case of a private ceremony, weddings, funerals and so on, of course i would participate and have participated. i think the only question would be whether i could participate as a participant, a believer, in your faith and maintain my membership in my church. that, it seems to me, comes within the private beliefs that a catholic might have. but as far as whether i could attend this sort of a function in your church, where i as senator or president could attend a function in your
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service connected with my position of office, then i could attend and would attend. >> the position with regard to the chapel that was dedicated, which i believe you accepted the invitation to attend and then the press had said that cardinal dougherty brought pressure and you did not attend. >> i'll be delighted to respond. i was invited in 1947 after my election to by dr. polling to attend a dinner to raise funds in an inter-faith chapel in honor of those that went down 14 years ago. i was delighted to accept, because i thought it was a useful and worthwhile cause. a few days before i was due to accept, i learned through my administrative assistant, who had friends in philadelphia, two things. first, that i was listed, and this is in dr. polling's book in which he describes the incident,
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as the spokesman for the catholic faith at the dinner. charles taft's brother was to be the spokesman for protestant things. the second thing i learned was that the chaplain, instead of being located as i thought it was, as an inter-faith chapel, was located in the basement of another church. it was not, in that sense, inter-faith chapel. and for the 14 years since that chapel was built, there has never been a service at any church because of the physical location. i therefore informed dr. polling that while i would be glad to come as a citizen, of course, many catholics did go to the dinner, i did not feel i had good credentials to attend as the spokesman for the catholic faith, when the whole catholic church group in philadelphia were not participating, and because the chapel has never been blessed or cons crated. now, i want to make it clear that my grounds for not going were private. i had no credentials to speak for the catholic faith at a
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dinner for a chapel which no catholic service has ever been held. and to this day, unfortunately, no service has been held at the present time. but i think if i may separate that, if this were a public member, i told dr. polling i would be glad to go as an individual, but i could not go as a spokesman. >> from christ church here in houston. i've read this platform with great interest and especially in the realm of freedom and i note that in the educational section the right of education for each person is guaranteed or offered for a guarantee, it also says that there shall be equal opportunity for employment, in another section it says there shall be equal rights to housing and recreation. all of these speak, i think, in a wonderful sense to the freedom which we want to keep here in america. yet, on the other hand, there is in another place in the
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platform, i read these words. we will repeal the authorization for right-to-work laws. now, it seems to me that in this aspect here, and i feel that these are much more important than any religious issue, here you are abolishing, and taking away the freedom of the individual worker, whether he wants to work and wants to belong to this union or not. isn't this sort of double-talk, you're guaranteeing freedom on the one hand and yet you're going to take it away on the other? >> i don't agree with that. >> i think there's a dichotomy in the platform. >> that has been in the platform since 1948 and i'm sure there's a difference of opinion between us on that matter and between many democrats on that matter. but i think that it's a decision which goes to economic and political views. i don't think it involves a constitutional guarantee of freedom. in other words, under the provisions of the taft law, a
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state was permitted to prohibit a union shop, but it was not permitted to guarantee a closed shop. now, my own judgment is that uniformity and interstate commerce is valuable and therefore i hold the view that it's better to have uniform laws and not a law which is interstate commerce, and this is not intra, but interstate. this is not a new provision. it's been in for the last three platforms. >> president of the bible college and pastor of first church of god in houston, and i am a member of the houston association of ministers. mr. kennedy, you very clearly stated your position tonight in regard to the propel gagz of the gospel for her countries, and i appreciate that because we protestants are a missionary people. however, the question i have to ask is this.
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if you are elected president, will you use your influence to get the roman catholic countries of south america and spain to stop persecuting protestant missionaries and to give equal rights to protestants to their faith? >> i would use my influence as president of the united states to encourage the development of freedom all over the world. one of the rights which i consider to be important is the right of free speech, the right of assembly, the right of free religious practice, and i would hope that the united states and the president would stand for those rights all around the globe without regard to geography or religion or political tradition. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> mr. kennedy, i'm pastor of the south main baptist church here in houston. i have received today a copy of a resolution passed by the
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baptist pastors conference of st. louis and they're going to confront you with this tomorrow night. i would like you to answer to the houston crowd before you get to st. louis. this is the resolution. with deep sincerity and in christian grace, we plead with senator john f. kennedy as the person presently concerned in this matter to appeal to cardinal cushing in boston to present to the vatican mr. kennedy's sincere statement relative to the separation of church and state in the united states, and religious freedom as represented in the constitution of the united states, in order that the vatican may officially authorize such a belief for all roman catholics in the united states. [ applause ] >> may i just say that as i do not accept the right of any, as i said, official to tell me what
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i shall do in the sphere of my public responsibility as an elected official, i do not propose, also, to ask cardinal cushing to ask the vatican to take some action. i will not impose in their right. there is no doubt in my mind that the viewpoint that i have expressed tonight publicly represents the opinion of the overwhelming majority of american catholics. >> mr. kennedy -- >> i think, my view, i have no doubt is known to catholics around the world. so i'm just hopeful that by my stating it quite precisely, and i believe i state it in the tradition of the american catholic way back all to way to bishop john carroll, i feel that i hope this will clarify it. this is the position, i think, of the american catholic church in the united states with which i am associated. >> we appreciate your forthright
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statements. may i see we have great admiration for you. but until we know this is the position of your church, because there will be many catholics who will be appointed if you are elected president, we would like to know that they, too, are free to make such statements as you've been so courageous to make. [ applause ] >> well, let me say that anyone that i would appoint to any office as a senator or as a president, would, i hope, hold the same view of the necessity of their living up to not only the letter of the constitution, but the spirit. if i may say so, i am a catholic. i've stated my view very clearly. i don't find any difficulty in stating that view. in my judgment, it is the view of american catholics from one end of the country to the other. because as long as i can state it in a way which i hope is satisfactory to you, i represent a viewpoint which is hostile to the catholic church of the
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united states? i believe i'm stating the viewpoint that catholics in this country hold between the relationship which exists between church and state. >> do you state it with the approval of the vatican? >> i don't have to have approval in that sense. [ applause ] >> i have not submitted my statement before i read it to the vatican. i did not submit it to the cardinal. but my judgment is cardinal cushing would approve of this statement in the same way that he approved of the 1948 statement of the bishop. in my judgment, and i am not a student of theology, i am stating what i believe to be the position of my personal position and also the position of the great majority of catholics. >> you have been watching senator john kennedy appearing before the greater houston ministerial association in an unrehearsed question and answer period. >> today i had a telephone
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conversation with dr. poling and received this telegram from him. i'm sure you would love to clear this matter up. the memorandum on religion as an election issue prepared by senator kennedy's associates has a section on the poling incident. this section contains serious factual errors. i believe the senator will wish to correct the errors or that he will wish to withdraw that section. the original draft of the program on the inter-faith dinner held in the stratford hotel identified mr. kennedy, then congressman from massachusetts has honorable john f. kennedy, congressman from massachusetts. mr. kennedy was never invited as an official representative of a religious organization, nor indeed as the spokesman for the catholic faith. no speaker on that occasion, catholic, jew or protestant was identified by his faith. two days before the dinner occasion, mr. kennedy canceled
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his engagement, he expressed his regret and stated that since his imminence the cardinal, requested him not to come, he as a loyal son of the church had no other alternative. therefore, it was necessary to destroy the first program and to reprint. >> now i will state, again, the words that i used, the quotation from the reverend poling's book, spokesman or the catholic faith, the book that was produced about a year ago that discussed this incident. secondly, my memory of the incident is quite clear. it's as good as reverend poling's, because when the matter was discussed, he stated the incident took place in 1950. it's only in the last two months that it's come forward that the incident took place in 1947. thirdly, i never discussed the matter with the cardinal in my life, i've never spoken to the cardinal. i first learned of it through my administrative assistant, who knew a mr. doyle who worked at the welfare conference who stated there was a good deal of concern among many of the church
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people in philadelphia because of the location of the chapel and because no service would ever be held in it because it was located in the basement of another church. it was an entirely different situation than the one that i had confronted when i first happily accepted it. now, there were three speakers, kennedy was one of them, taft was the second, senator lehman was the third. one was supposed to speak for the catholic faith, one for the protestant faith and one for the jewish faith. all i can say to you, sir, is this chapel, i was glad to accept the invitation. it was only when i was informed that i was speaking and i was invited, obviously, as a serviceman because i came from a prominent catholic family, that i was informed that i was there really in a sense without any credentials, the chapel as i've said, has never had a catholic service. it is not an interfaith chapel. for me to participate as a spokesman for the catholic faith i think would have given an
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erroneous impression. i've been there 14 years. i had been in politics two months and was relatively inexperienced. i should have inquired. is this the best that can be done after 14 years? is this the only incident that can be shown? [ applause ] >> and this was a private dinner. this was not a public dinner. this was a private dinner. this does not involve any responsibilities as a public official. my judgment was bad only in accepting it without having all the facts, which i wouldn't have done at a later date. but i do want to say that i've been there for 14 years, i have voted on hundreds of matters, probably thousands of matters that involve all kinds of public questions, some which border on the church and state, and that record must be reasonably good or we wouldn't keep hearing about the poling incident. >> senator kennedy -- >> in addition -- i don't mean
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to be disrespectful to reverend poling, i have high regard for dr. poling, i don't like to be in a debate about it. but i must say looking back, i think it was imprudent of me to sl accepted without more information, but i don't think it demonstrates unfitness to hold a public office. >> the reason for our concern is the fact that your church has stated that it has the privilege and the right and the responsibility to direct its members in various members of life, including the political realm. >> history and observation indicate that it has done so, and we raise the question because we would like to know if you are elected president and your church elects to use that privilege and obligation, what your response will be under those circumstances. >> if my church attempted to influence me in a way which was improper or which affected adversely my responsibility as a public servant, sworn to uphold the constitution, then i would
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reply to them that this was an improper action on their part, that it was one to which i could not subscribe, that i was opposed to it, and that it would be an unfortunate breach and interference with the american political system. i'm confident that there would be no such interference. we've had two chief justices of the supreme court who are catholic. my judgment is that an american who is a catholic, who is as sensitive as a catholic must be who seeks this high office, exposed to the precious in the world around us, that he will be extremely diligent in his protection of the constitutional separation. >> we would be most happy to have such a statement from the vatican. [ applause ] >> because of the briefness of
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the time, let's cut out the applause. >> senator kennedy, minister of the church of christ. first of all, i should like to quote some authoritative quotations from catholic sources, and then propose questions. a false statement, knowingly made to one who has not a right to the truth, will not be a lie. catholic encyclopedia, volume 10, page 696, quoting, however, we are also under an obligation to keep secrets faithfully and sometimes the easiest way of fulfilling that duty is to say what is false or tell a lie. catholic encyclopedia, volume 10, page 195, when mental reservation is permissible, it is lawful to corroborate one's utterances by an oath if there
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be an adequate cause. article on perjury, catholic encyclopedia, volume 11, page 696, quoting again, the truth we proclaim under oath is relative and not absolute. explanation of catholic morals, page 130. just recently from the vatican in rome, this news release was given from the official vatican newspaper, and i'm quoting that of may 19th, 1960. tuesday, the roman catholic hierarchy have the right and duty to intervene in the political field to guide its plot. the newspaper rejected what is termed, quoting, the absurd split of conscience between the believer and the citizen, however the observer made it clear that it was valid for
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roman catholic laymen everywhere, it deplored the great confusion of ideas that is spreading, especially between catholic doctrine and social and political activities, and between the hierarchy and the faithful in the civil field. pope john 23rd recently gave this statement, according to the st. louis review, dated december 12th, 1958. quote, catholics may unite their strength toward the common aid and the catholic hierarchy have the right and duty of guiding them. question, sir. do you subscribe to the doctrine of mental reservation, which i have quoted from the catholic authorities? do you submit to the authority of the present pope, which i have quoted from, in these quotations. >> let me say in the first place i have not read the catholic
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encyclopedia and i don't know all the quotation. i don't agree with the statement, i find no difficulty in saying so. i think probably i could give a better comment if i had the entire quotation before me. in any case, i had not read it before. if the quotation is meant to imply that when you take an oath you don't mean it or it's proper for you to take oaths and then break them, that it's proper for you to lie, if that is what this states, then i don't know whether that's what it states unless i read it all in context, and then, of course, i would not agree with it. secondly, on the question of the observatory romano article, once again, i don't have that in full. i read the statement of last december which was directed to a situation in sicily, but i'm not familiar with the one of may, 1960 that you mentioned. in any case, the observatory romano has no standing as far as binding me. thirdly, the quotation of pope
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john of 1958, i didn't catch all of that. if you read that again, i'll tell you whether i support that or not. >> open john the 23rd, only recently stated according to the st. louis review, december 12th, 1958, quoting, catholics must unite their strength toward the common aid and the catholic hierarchy have the right and duty of guiding them. do you subscribe to that? >> i couldn't subscribe, guiding them in what area? are you talking about faith and morals, instructions of the church? i would think any baptist minister or congregational has the duty to guide his flock. if you mean by that statement that the pope or anyone else could bind me in the fulfillment of my public duties, i say no. if that statement is intended to
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mean, and it's very difficult to comment on a sentence taken out of an oral which i have not read, but if that is intended to imply that the hierarchy has an obligation to attempt to guide the members of the catholic church, then that may be proper. but it all depends on the previous language of what you mean by guide. if you mean direct or instruct on matters dealing with the organization of the faith, the details of the faith, then, of course, they have that obligation. if you mean that by that, under that, he could guide me or anyone could guide or direct me in fulfilling my public duty, then i do not agree. >> thank you, sir. >> then you do not agree with the pope on that statement? >> see, that's why i wanted to be careful because that statement, it seems to me, is taken out of context that you just made to me. i could not tell you what the pope meant unless i had the entire article. i would be glad to state to you that no one can direct me in the fulfillment of my duties as a public official under the united
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states constitution. that i am directed to do to the people of the united states, sworn to, to an oath to god. now, that is my flat statement. i would not want to go into details on a sentence that you read to me, which i may not understand completely. i think my statement is quite clear [ applause ] >> gentlemen, we have time for one more question, if it can be handled briefly. >> senator kennedy, from the westminster church here in houston. you have been quite clear on this matter of the separation and church and state and you have answered graciously the many questions that have come up around it. there is one question, however, which seems to me quite relevant, and this relates to your statement that if you found by some remote possibility a real conflict between your oath of office as president, that you would resign that office if it were in real conflict with your church. >> no, i said with my conscience.
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>> with your conscience. in the syllabus of errors of pope leo the 9th, which is still binding upon all catholics, there are three very specific things which are denounced, including the separation of state and church, the freedom of religions other than catholic to propel gate themselves. do you still feel these being binding upon you that you hold your oath of office above your allegiance to the pope on these issues? >> let's go through the issues, because i don't think there's a conflict on these three issues. first issue, as i understood it, was on the relationship between the catholics and the state and other faiths. >> no, the separation of church and state. >> he explicitly considers an error -- >> i support that and in my judgment the american bishops statement of 1948 clearly
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supported it. i believe that is the view held by catholics in this country, they support the separation of church and state and they are not in error in that regard. >> the second was the right of religions other than roman catholic. >> i think we should be permitted to, any faith, without any limitation by the power of the state, or encouragement by the power of the state. >> the third was the freedom of conscience in matters of religion, and also in .46, i believe it is, extends to freedom of the mind in the realms of science. >> well, i believe in freedom of conscience. let me just -- i guess our time is coming to an end, but let me say, finally, that i am delighted to come here today. i don't want anyone to think because they interrogate me on this very important question that i regard that as unfair questions or unreasonable, or that somebody who is concerned about the matter is prejudice or
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bigoted. i think this fight for religious freedom is basic in the establishment of the american system and any candidate for the office i think should submit himself to the questions of any reasonable man. >> [ applause ] >> my only limit to that would be that if somebody said regardless of senator kennedy's position, regardless of how much evidence he's given, what he says he means, i still wouldn't vote for him because he's a member of that church, i would consider that unreasonable. what i consider to be reasonable and an exercise of freewill and free choice is to ask the candidate to state his views, as broadly as possible, investigate his record to see what he states he believes and then make an independent or rational judgment was to whether he could be trusted this position. i want to thank you for inviting me tonight. i'm sure i've made no converts to my church. but i do hope, at least my view,
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which i believe to be the view of my fellow catholics who hold office, i hope that it may be of some value in assisting you to make a careful judgment. thank you [ applause ] >> gentlemen, shall we remain standing? >> you have been watching senator john kennedy appearing before the greater houston ministerial association in an unrehearsed question and answer period. the telecast was sponsored by the kennedy johnson texas campaign committee on behalf of senator kennedy's candidacy for president of the united states. through the facilities, this has been a special texas state network program. ♪♪
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next on lectures in history, university of cans professor randel jelks teaches a class about the role of african-american ministers in politics. he describes church boards and programs as ways community members gained experience running for office and organizing. his class is about an hour. >> good afternoon. let's try this again. good afternoon. >> good


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