Iowa GOP Thanksgiving Family Forum: Some Thoughts

Posted on November 22, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Thought for the day: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” ~George Santayana

This seems to be the case in America, as a presidential candidate’s religious views appears to a viable measuring stick for eligibility to lead. Latest example: These 6 GOP hopeful participating in last night’s “Thanksgiving Family Forum” in Iowa.

From all accounts, it appears to have been quite the sob-fest, as many of the candidates got quite emotional and copiously turned on the waterworks, in a blubbery display that would have made John Boehner envious.

(What a bunch of turkeys…)

Candidates for the Republican nomination for president shed tears and traded heart-rending personal stories in the sanctuary of the First Federated Church of Des Moines, at an event dubbed a Thanksgiving Family Forum. Neither of the two Mormon candidates, the front-runner Mitt Romney nor the back-of-the-pack John Huntsman, took part.The forum, sponsored by The Family Leader and livestreamed by the political arm of Focus on the Family, featured right-wing pollster Frank Luntz in the role of a tear-jerking talk-show host, played with the sort of aplomb that would give Barbara Walters a run for her money.

Video links of each individual candidate here and for the entire event here, for those who can stomach it.

How far America has come since the days of 1960, when candidate Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-MA) assured the Greater Houston Ministerial Association that his Catholic faith would not interfere with his duties as Commander in Chief. Some important portions of that address:

While the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the chief topic here tonight, I want to emphasize from the outset that we have far more critical issues to face in the 1960 election: the spread of Communist influence, until it now festers 90 miles off the coast of Florida; the humiliating treatment of our president and vice president by those who no longer respect our power; the hungry children I saw in West Virginia; the old people who cannot pay their doctor bills; thefamilies forced to give up their farms; an America with too many slums, with too few schools.These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues – for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barriers.

But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected president, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured – perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again not what kind of church I believe in – for that should be important only to me – but what kind of America I believe in.

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew- or a Quaker or a Unitarian or a Baptist.  Today I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you – until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.

I believe in a president whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation, or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.

I would not look with favor upon a president working to subvert the First Amendment’s guarantees of religious liberty. Nor would our system of checks and balances permit him to do so. And neither do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test – even by indirection – for it.

This is the kind of America I believe in, and this is the kind I fought for in the South Pacific, and the kind my brother died for in Europe. No one suggested then that we may have a “divided loyalty,” that we did “not believe in liberty,” or that we belonged to a disloyal group that threatened the “freedoms for which our forefathers died.”

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