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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/10/12

Manchurian Catholic Democrats and JFK's Speech about Religion

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Manchurian candidates have been characterized as plants, put into positions of power, so they can do their work for the entity that plants them many years earlier.  In some ways, I am feeling like some of the many Catholics in government now have blossomed as Manchurian plants, particularly when we look at the unfolding  attack on the right to access to birth control that the Catholic Church seems to be systematically and aggressively orchestrating. 
Back when John F. Kennedy was running for president, he reassured the nation about his religion in a speech, included at the end of this article.  Here's a key excerpt:
 "I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me.

Whatever issue may come before me as president -- on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject -- I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise."

Now, there are many, many Catholic elected officials in office, including the first Catholic Vice President, Joe Biden. And I worry when he tells us that "we can work it out."

I worry when he says that,  as politico reports,   the "NY archbishop, Timothy Dolan, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said earlier Thursday that he is "unhappy" with the president's decision and "skeptical" of the administration's offers to work out a compromise." And that Biden reassures us, "He is a great guy."

I worry when Catholic governor Joe Manchin III, offers a bill to block access to contraceptives for women who work for Catholic orgs. 
I worry when Senators Kerry and McCaskill say that they want the administration to adjust its rule. 
I worry about the 30.3% of the 535 members of congress who are Catholic. They have not all made a pledge like JFK. They may just be susceptible to pressures from Bishops and Archbishops. They may not be representing their constituents. Keep in mind that generally, over 60% of Democrats are women and there are a lot more Catholic Democrats than Republicans. That means a lot more chance for folks like Biden and Manchin to sell out women, which is what I consider them doing when they bend to this new attack on women's rights. 
Politico reports on Bill Daley, who was Obama's Chief of Staff, until just last month,
  "Bill Daley , a Catholic with deep connections to the church hierarchy, vehemently opposed the administration's proposal to require church-run hospitals and universities to give their employees free contraception. ... In early November, ... Daley set up a four-man Oval Office meeting for himself, Obama, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Vice President Biden, who both shared the view that the policy would sink the president with Catholic voters. Obama ... hadn't fully analyzed the dueling arguments, ... and felt 'mildly uncomfortable' being put on the spot.
and there's the female contingent at the Whitehouse, which the Politico article also discussed,
"Several of the president's most influential female advisers -- Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett among them -- were angry by what they viewed as a Daley power play and made their sentiment known to Obama, according to several people close the situation. "

I am a firm believer that people of different religious faiths have the right to practice their faith, and that religious faiths have the right to ask of their loyal followers that they follow rules and precepts. But no religious faith has the right to influence or control non-followers of the faith. That's what's happening here. Catholic archbishops are demanding that they be allowed to influence employees who are non-followers, or even employees who are Catholic, who choose not to obey edicts against birth control. This is wrong. 
I might be accused of religious intolerance for broaching this subject. But it is Joe Biden and Joe Manchin who are speaking in ways that open the sluice gates to eroding women's hard-fought rights to access to contraception. 
JFK made a brilliant speech, almost 52 years ago. He broke ground and made it a lot easier to be a Catholic running for office. Now, a handful of Catholics in office, and also in the media, are looking like they could be failing the trust that constituents and viewers have given them. This is a big deal. This is something that, as uncomfortable as  it may be, must be discussed. 
I've known, since 2006, when I hired Zogby to do some polling in Pennsylvania, that about 70-80% of the people who oppose abortion would also like to eliminate access to birth control. But that same polling showed that this is a vulnerability of conservative social-issue-pandering politicians. At least 60% of the electorate wants contraception to be available. 
The Catholic church may think they have a winner here, and it may be pulling the strings of some of it's "Manchurian" politicians, but overall, the great mass of voters opposes limiting access to contraceptions. It's an issue that will cost the politicians who get behind it. It's hard to imagine that they don't know that, yet they're standing with the Catholic archbishops. It really makes you wonder. 

What do you think?

see update at end.

JFK's Speech on Religion

from NPR: On Sept. 12, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy gave a major speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a group of Protestant ministers, on the issue of his religion. At the time, many Protestants questioned whether Kennedy's Roman Catholic faith would allow him to make important national decisions as president independent of the church. Kennedy addressed those concerns before a skeptical audience of Protestant clergy. The following is a transcript of Kennedy's speech:

Kennedy: Rev. Meza, Rev. Reck, I'm grateful for your generous invitation to speak my views.

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; the families forced to give up their farms; an America with too many slums, with too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space.

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 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.

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. It was Virginia's harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson's statute of religious freedom. 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.

Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end; where all men and all churches are treated as equal; where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice; where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind; and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.

That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of presidency in which I believe -- a great office that must neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group, nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. 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.

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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media.

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He is the author of The Bottom-up Revolution; Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity

He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites, OpEdNews.com

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, (more...)

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