Feature

Why faith and power don’t mix

Palin complains that my uncle was “defensive” about his faith and “ran away” from it,” said Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in The Washington Post.

Kathleen Kennedy TownsendThe Washington Post

Should political candidates have to reveal their religious beliefs—and be judged by them? That’s Sarah Palin’s vision of how America ought to be, said Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. In her new book, Palin strongly criticizes my uncle John F. Kennedy for his famous statement in 1960 that he was not the Catholic candidate for president, but the Democratic candidate “who happens also to be a Catholic.” Palin complains that my uncle was “defensive” about his faith and “ran away” from it; instead, she says, candidates should follow Mitt Romney’s lead during the 2008 campaign.

To win over conservative Christians, Romney denounced secularism and declared, “Jesus Christ is the son of God.” Some Democratic politicians, Palin complains, talk of religion but don’t “walk the walk”; apparently, she has figured out how to “look into others’ souls and assess their worthiness.” But as my uncle and the Founding Fathers understood, creating a “religious test” for office would destroy America’s “hard-won ideal of religious freedom” by putting an official stamp of approval on some faiths and not on others. Beware the self-righteous, for they shall lead us astray.

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