Haupt: Identity politics handcuffs democracy

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
During the height of the Cold War, everyone was seeking refuge from the Communist “curtain of fear.” The principal at our parochial school demanded our parents vote for John Kennedy because he was a Catholic. Mother Jude, with holy authority, told us if we did not insist our parents support candidate JFK, it would be sinful.
This reverently stoic nun claimed since JFK was a Catholic, he emboldened the spirituality to protect us from the dreaded USSR. When I told my father what she had commanded, I soon learned my first lesson in identity politics. He told me blatantly: “We never vote because of religion! If we vote for Kennedy it’s because of his capability to govern our nation.”
During a campaign speech, JFK reiterated that: “I am not a Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic.”
Throughout his campaign, JFK’s spiritual beliefs were the subject of controversy. Many who disliked him claimed they did not want the Pope running the White House. Although he had a conservative record with 14 years in Congress, and often disagreed with the ambassador to the Vatican, this was ignored. He led the coalition to stop unconstitutional aid to parochial schools, yet few of his critics could see beyond his Catholicism. They continually referenced the articles with scrupulously selected quotations taken out of context from statements, made by church leaders.
Although the Counsel of Bishops strongly endorsed church-state separation, which reflected the views of almost every American Catholic at the time, he was chastened unmercifully for his religion by his foe.
“For while this year it may be a Catholic

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