JFK Confronting Catholic Hostility

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During John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign, he faced hostility for his affiliations with the Catholic Church. In the early 1960s, Kennedy was faced with pressure to drop his presidential run and accept a vice presidential candidacy because of his Catholicism. Like Al Smith in 1928, Kennedy had to persuade skeptics that he would stress the separation of the Church and state. At the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ annual convention in April 1960, Kennedy had to steer away from his intended topic for his speech to address the questions of his loyalty. According to the Chicago Daily Tribune article below by Willard Edwards, Kennedy’s speech was effective- indicated by the silence from the editors in the Q&A section. However, the editors may have been stunned as Kennedy condemned the newspapers for “what he regarded as overemphasis for his religion.” Similar to class discussions, Kennedy’s run emphasized his Catholicism even when he did not intend to. In present elections, Catholicism could be used as a tool to win over conservative Catholic voters; but, the 1960s still called for careful navigation for a Catholic candidate to emphasize their independence from the Catholic hierarchy when acting in the benefit of the US.

Link to the PDF of the articleKennedy Rips Bigotry

Article Citation: Edwards, Willard. “Kennedy Rips Bigotry in Church Issue.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Apr 22, 1960. http://flagship.luc.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.flagship.luc.edu/docview/182477253?accountid=12163.




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