Tuesday, October 5, 2010

John F. Kennedy’s “Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association” Analysis

In the 1960 presidential election, Richard Nixon vs. John F. Kennedy (figure 1), Kennedy was first to be nominated in the first ballot. However, because he was a Catholic John Kennedy had doubts about his ability to win the election. On September 12, 1960, at Rice Hotel in Houston, Texas John F. Kennedy addressed the Houston Ministerial Association he states that "not what kind is church I believe in, for that should be important only to me-but what kind of America I believe in." Kennedy expressed to the audience that he was for the separation of church and state, and that the Constitution was above the dictates of the church when it comes to politics. Being a certain religion should not affect a person's ability to win the presidential election, they should be judged on their capability of being a good leader for our country.

Figure 1: "John F. Kennedy: Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association" Sept. 12.1960. American Rhetoric. Web. 5 October 2010

"I believe in an America…," Kennedy uses these words repeatedly throughout his speech to emphasize his beliefs on how America should be. He says "The real issues in the campaign have been obscured perhaps deliberately." The issues he addresses are the spread of Communist, treatment of President and Vice President by people who don't respect their power, and people living in poverty; the campaign should be decided on these issues not religion. JFK makes a connection to his audience by addressing the fact that next it might be their personal religion that the finger of suspicion is pointed at. Kennedy points out that the President should be able to fulfill anything his office requires of him; and whose fulfillment of his office is not limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual, or obligation. He makes a personal connection by announcing his involvement in the war in the South Pacific and his brother dying for our country in Europe. This is the kind of America that our forefathers died for; they fled to our country to escape religious test that denied office to members of less favored churches. He quotes, "the freedoms for which our forefathers died."

Kennedy clearly states that he wants to be judged on his fourteen years in the Congress, stands against an Ambassador to the Vatican, against unconstitutional aid to parochial schools and against any boycotting in schools. Any decisions JFK makes will be from the best judgment of him as a President not as a Catholic. The decision Issues on birth control, divorce, gambling, or any other subject will be made in accordance of the nation's interest. However, a Catholic may believe this is impossible to do because of their beliefs. If he should lose the election after being judged fairly he shall return to his seat in the Senate.

JFK closes his speech by stating his oath, "I solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to my best ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, so help me God." Overall Kennedy's address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association was a success. He successfully emphasize that his religion will not get in the way of making decisions when it comes to the issues we have in America.

Work Cited

Kennedy, F. John. "Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association." American Rhetoric. N.P., Sept. 12.1960. Web. 5 October 2010

Work Consulted

Li, Chien-Pin. "1960: The Road To Camelot." www.kennesaw.edu. Ed. Chien-Pin Li. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Oct. 2010.