Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company in New York.
What is it with the Kennedys and Cuomos? I mean, we get it. Religion in the public sphere is a horrible thing unless it can be used to your advantage. Gotcha.
Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend wrote an op-ed the other day criticizing Sarah Palin (who else?) for saying that JFK got it wrong when he made his religion subordinate to his politics.
I could spend this time trying to deconstruct what Kennedy-Townsend said, but what is the point? Back when JFK made his infamous 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. Paraphrased “I am a politician first, my Catholicism is a distant second, if that, because the Constitution says so or something.”
Mario Cuomo raised this ridiculous line of thinking to an art form in his 1984 speech at Notre Dame with his personally opposed formulation.
Here is the thing Kennedys and Cuomos. You can stop saying it now. You won. Everybody now thinks like you do.
The idea of consciences and action are formed by faith is a relic of a bygone era. Right? Actually, no.
What the Kennedys and the Cuomos do not get is that no matter what, your faith informs your actions. All JFK and Mario (and Kerry, Pelosi, et al) confirmed is that they don’t really believe it or they don’t care.
Which is worse? A politician who gives lip service to faith but doesn’t really believe it or politician who really believes it but let’s babies die anyway? This is why I choose to believe that they don’t really believe it, the alternative is too much to contemplate.
Point is, faith informs politics always and absolutely. So does lack of faith. There is no getting around it. If politics comes first, it is only because that is what you really believe. One cannot serve two masters.
At its core JFK’s 1960 speech was a lie. One can rarely really believe something and act in a way diametrically opposed to it. You do what you believe. Always. If you believe that Jesus is who He said He was, if you believe the Church is what it says it is, you will mostly act accordingly. If you don’t, you will also mostly act accordingly.
Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend’s faith informs her politics every bit as much as Sarah Palin’s faith informs her politics. The difference is that they know Sarah actually believes it. That is the unacceptable part.
Same is true when I roll my eyes at the folly of a Kennedy-Townsend op-ed, I do so because I really believe it.