Religious freedom is a cornerstone of American society… unless someone is running for office. In 1960 John Kennedy’s Catholicism troubled many in America’s protestant majority. America’s leading protestant minister at the time, Norman Vincent Peale spoke for over 150 congregations around the country;
“It is inconceivable that a Roman Catholic President would not be under extreme pressure by the hierarchy of his church to accede to its policies with respect to foreign relations, including representation to the Vatican … Is it reasonable to assume that a Roman Catholic President would be able to withstand altogether the determined efforts of the hierarchy to gain further funds and favors for its schools and institutions, and otherwise breach the wall of separation of church and state? ”
“In various areas where they predominate Catholics have seized control of the public schools, staffed them with nun teachers wearing their church garb, and introduced the catechism and practices of their church. In Ohio today—a state with a Roman Catholic Governor—according to an attorney general’s ruling, Roman Catholic nuns and sisters may be placed on the public payroll as schoolteachers.”
Not much has changed in 2012… prominent evangelicals have spoken out against Mitt Romney’s candidacy because he belongs to the Mormon church. There are lessons to be learned in history, but Americans still have not come to grips with religious differences….
“That is a mainstream view, that Mormonism is a cult … Every true, born again follower of Christ ought to embrace a Christian over a non-Christian” (Rev. Robert Jeffress , Values Voter Summit, Oct. 7, 2011).
“I believe a candidate who either by intent or effect promotes a false and dangerous religion is unfit to serve. Mitt Romney has said it is not his intent to promote Mormonism. Yet there can be little doubt that the effect of his candidacy — whether or not this is his intent — will be to promote Mormonism” (Warren Cole Smith, Patheos.com, May 24, 2011)
“Mormonism is not an orthodox Christian faith. It just is not … It’s very clear that the Founding Fathers did not intend to preserve automatically religious liberty for non-Christian faiths” (Bryan Fischer, Focal Point radio show, September 2011).