Anybody Here Seen My Old Friend John?He was my childhood idol (I came to baseball later than normal children), and thirty years of revisionist history have done little to lessen either my admiration or my sense of loss for a man I know only from books and television. Today, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of his murder, I remember him by quoting from his speech in Houston during the 1960 Presidential campaign, when he confronted head-on the widespread anti-Catholic bias that threatened to undo his candidacy:
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 Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote--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 public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source--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.
That's a very different America from the America of George Bush and Pat Buchanan, of John Ashcroft and Roy Moore. But it's still an ideal worth fighting for.
T'hei nishmato tzirurah bitzror hachaim: May his soul be bound up in the bond of life.