John F. Kennedy's Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association

Houston, Texas

September 12, 1960

Religion became a divisive issue during the presidential campaign of 1960. Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, vying to be the nation's first Catholic president and given the opportunity before a convention of Baptist ministers, decided to try to put the issue to rest. His address did not please everyone: many non-Catholics remained unconvinced that a Catholic could be president without divided loyalties; and many Catholics thought he conceded too much in his profession of belief in an "absolute" separation of church and state. Whatever its political or theological merits, the speech has been widely lauded as a piece of oratorical genius and an important marker in the history of Catholicism (and anti-Catholicism) in the United States.


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