Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Religion plays an even larger role in American politics today than it did in 1960, when JFK's Catholicism was the number one issue. Yet it is often poorly examined by the press and even historians. To suggest that the Kennedys were somehow secularists is to miss much of their story. In 1960, JFK expressed and embrace a theory of separation of church and state in the public square. It was a principled but necessary stand by Kennedy, very aware of the long history of anti-Catholicism in the US up to that point. However, the Kennedys were more involved with the Vatican than just about any other American lay Catholics. The correspondence between Joseph P. Kennedy, Cardinal Spellman, and the Vatican's administrator Count Enrico Galeazzi is probably the most fascinating nexus of religion and politics in recent American history. These letters are contained in the Joseph P. Kennedy papers at the JFK Library and are explained in detail throughout my book.