Week 12: When Did Catholic Politics Become National?

In the United States in the 1960s some of the most important movements were going on and with the help of the country’s first Catholic President running for office, the barriers seemed to be breaking even further. John F. Kennedy would’ve been incredibly shunned only 40 years prior due to his Catholic identity. While American Catholics were happy with JFK’s election bid, people practicing other religions weren’t. Retrospectively, we’re able to see that his speeches given to many different churches, including Protestant, helped win the Presidency. In a piece published in 1960, the American people were asked about their voting preferences and looking back at their reactions to a Catholic candidate is astounding and expected all at once. One of the first ideas that the article brings to light is that Kennedy’s Catholicism will make a difference in the upcoming election. Other worries included Kennedy’s “mushrooming” or the idea that he grew politically too fast. After looking through the article published by Stewart Alsop in the Saturday Evening Post, it’s clear that hostilities towards Catholics were still prevalent and still a deciding factor for many. While we like to agree that anti-Catholic sentient has somewhat come to a halt in American politics, Mitt Romney was the target in the 2012 Presidential election for his Mormon beliefs. While he gained quite a bit of momentum, he also received endless pushback from the American people for his religious affiliation. In conclusion, Alsop’s Saturday Evening Post publication, “Nixon or Kennedy?”, made clear that anti-Catholicism was a deciding factor in which person the American people were going to vote for.


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