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Covering Catholic Candidates

The source that I have selected for this week’s discussion regarding the presidential campaigns of Al Smith, JFK, RFK, and Eugene McCarthy, is centered around JFK’s address that he gave to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in 1960. I selected an article that discusses this speech (I have also attached the speech itself for reference) because it does a fantastic job of picking apart JFK’s speech surrounding his Catholicism in relation to his campaign. As we have been discussing in class, the Catholicism of Catholic candidates can often be a challenge that these candidates have to face and attempt to hurdle. JFK, one of the most successful Catholic candidates for United States president, recognized the opposition he faced from the electorate just because he self-identified as a Catholic. Consequently, he was pressured to address all of the commotion around this and wanted to make it as clear as possible that his religious affiliation does not necessarily correlate with his views on certain issues and the direction he wanted to take the nation. This speech, and the coverage of it presented in the article below, highlight the challenges that Kennedy faced on the campaign trail because he was a Catholic, and show the actions that he felt he needed to take to reassure the masses that his Catholicism would not interfere with his political views and the actions that he would take as president.

A Catholic for President?: John F. Kennedy and the “Secular” Theology of the Houston Speech, 1960

Newspaper Article

JFK Address (Video & Transcript)


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