Justice Kennedy Enshrines into Law the Infamous Legacy of JFK


Bob Sullivan and his wife Carmen are the parents of five daughters. They live in Hastings, Nebraska, where they attend St. Cecilia Catholic Church. When he’s not practicing law, Bob writes and speaks about faith and the teachings of the Catholic Church. He writes a column for the Southern Nebraska Register and has had several articles appear in Catholic Answers Magazine. He blogs at www.bsullivan.org and www.thosecatholicmen.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@BobSullivan87) and Facebook (bob.sullivan.10004).

As Catholics, we want to be treated fairly and we certainly need the freedom to live our faith outside of our mind, our home and our church buildings. What progressives seem to presume is that we want an advantage over other faiths and ideologies. This is not the case. We believe that non-Catholic Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, atheists and all other faiths and ideologies, should all have the same freedom we have. We are confident enough to say we should all play on the same level playing field because in the end, as long as reasonable people are willing to think, the truth, beauty, and goodness of Catholicism will win hearts and minds every time.

When John F. Kennedy became a major contender for the office of president of the United States, his Catholic faith became a concern for many non-Catholic Christians. It was somewhat tolerable to have Catholics serving in Congress, on the federal judiciary and other levels of government, but the country had never had a Catholic president. Many non-Catholic Christians questioned whether JFK’s faith would allow him to make important national decisions because many had been told that the pope called the shots for all Catholics.

Similar rumors had undermined Al Smith’s run for the presidency in 1928 and had served as the base for an entire anti-Catholic political party in the 1800s called the Know-Nothing Party. In all the colonies except Maryland, Catholics were persona non grata. Anti-Catholicism seems to be one long-standing American tradition which remains unchallenged by the social justice warriors of today.

JFK was well aware of the anti-Catholic sentiment in America. On September 12, 1960, he had the opportunity to quell those concerns in a major speech to a large and very skeptical group of non-Catholic ministers and leaders in the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. Never before had an American had such an opportunity to explain the truth about the Catholic faith, with not only a large non-Catholic audience, but a worldwide audience waiting to hear what he had to say.

Unfortunately, JFK sidestepped the issue, delivering a speech that failed to defend the Catholic faith. He merely defended himself. If he was to explain how a faithful Catholic could be both the president of the United States and remain a faithful Catholic, he simply dropped the ball. Many believe he was simply incapable of defending the faith. I suspect there is some truth to that. As a result, many a lukewarm, lapsed and ignorant Catholic have followed him into public office in the years since, unchallenged by the skeptics as long as they followed JFK’s formula.

How many “devout” Catholic politicians have claimed that they do not believe in abortion, but they cannot impose that belief on the American people? We have heard Catholic politicians claim that they cannot oppose same-sex “marriage” and some of them now claim that the Church is wrong on its teaching. When we hear these things, we need only look back to September 12, 1960, when candidate Kennedy said, “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.”

In saying this to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, he was saying it to the world. The world heard him say that the Catholic faith is a “private affair.” And how it tickled their ears.

We heard from another Kennedy in the 1992 case, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. Justice Anthony Kennedy who is also Catholic, but is not related to JFK, guaranteed unlimited access to abortion in the United States. In that infamous decision, Justice Kennedy wrote that “at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life.” In Obergefell v. Hodges, another decision penned by Justice Kennedy, he wrote: “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.” Where JFK had dropped the ball, Justice Anthony Kennedy picked it up and scored a touchdown for the opposing team. Twice. Justice Kennedy employed metaphysical relativism to ensure that abortion and same-sex “marriage” would remain a prominent law of the land in the United States for many decades to come. These decisions are bad enough without adding a third victory for the Sexual Revolution: Kennedy’s defense of sodomy in Lawrence v. Texas (2003).

Both Kennedys have complied with progressives’ insistence on secularism and a very unconstitutional definition of “separation of Church and State.”

JFK promoted a private faith and Justice Kennedy has decreed that there is no objective moral or metaphysical truth while noting a distinction between a “lawful realm” and religion.

Today, secularists and supporters of groups such as “Freedom From Religion” look back at JFK’s speech as well as Justice Kennedy’s opinions and use them as ammunition to drive the Christian faith further away from American life. Exhibit “A” is the “freedom of worship” mantra used by the Obama Administration. Between 2008 and 2016 they substituted “freedom of worship” in place of “freedom of religion.”

One of these things isn’t like the other. Freedom of religion means that a person is free to practice their faith without unreasonable restraint by the government. Because of the First Amendment, we can pray in public, at our place of employment, in our schools, etc… and we can decline to support ideas, choices, and behaviors that assault our consciences.

Freedom of worship is an entirely different matter. In his book The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn mentions Tanya Khodkevich, who wrote: “You can pray freely. But just so God alone can hear.” For writing those words, Khodkevich was sentenced to ten years in prison.

If we buy into the “theology” of these two Kennedys, how is the United States any different than Stalin’s Soviet Union? I guess nobody is being jailed here, at least not yet. But numerous Americans are being persecuted for their refusal to comply with laws imposed on us.

In the recently decided case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, LTD v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission suggested that a business owner can believe “what he wants to believe,” but cannot act on his religious beliefs “if he decides to do business in the state [of Colorado].” That is what freedom of worship looks like… “But just so God alone can hear.” For Jack Phillips, it nearly ended up meaning that he was going to lose his livelihood. In a 7-2 decision, written by who else but Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court finally disagreed with freedom of worship and upheld freedom of religion. At least Justice Kennedy did not score another touchdown for the opposing team. Unfortunately, he only kicked a field goal for us this time.

I say this because the question is not totally settled. When Jack Phillips declined to bake a cake to celebrate the same-sex “marriage” of Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins, Colorado had not yet redefined marriage. Therefore, Craig & Mullins could not have their ceremony in Colorado. Their ceremony was actually planned to take place in Massachusetts. Justice Kennedy made note of this fact, making it likely that Mr. Phillips or another business owner will have to go through the same process of prosecution all over again.

The other problem with Justice Kennedy’s decision is that he sidestepped Mr. Phillips’s arguments about freedom of speech and focused on the obvious anti-religious bias of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. If the Civil Right Commissioners had been more polite in their comments and had not exhibited such a blatant hostility toward Christianity in other similar cases, might the Supreme Court have upheld the penalties imposed on Mr. Phillips? Justice Kennedy believes it could have. He wrote: “…it must be concluded that the State’s interest could have been weighed against Phillips’s sincere religious objections in a way consistent with the requisite religious neutrality that must be strictly observed.” He also wrote: “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”

Let’s start electing and appointing Catholics who actually know and live their faith. Let’s start calling on those Catholics currently in office to be courageous in defending truth.

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5 comments on “Justice Kennedy Enshrines into Law the Infamous Legacy of JFK

  1. As Catholics, we owe our loyalty to Christ the King and have a duty to promote His Social Kingship. It’s really that simple.

  2. What phaley said…and another way of putting it, not so simple:
    You aren’t there yet, Mr. Sullivan…not even close.
    “What progressives seem to presume is that we want an advantage over other faiths and ideologies. This is not the case.”
    Wrong. It is the case. Here’s the proof:
    Pius IX, Syllabus of Errors, condemned proposition: “The [Catholic] Church is to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church.”
    Pius IX, Quanta Cura, #3: “[A]t this time men are found not a few who, applying to civil society the impious and absurd principle of “naturalism,” as they call it, dare to teach that the best constitution of public society and (also) civil progress altogether require that human society be conducted and governed without regard being had to religion any more than if it did not exist; or, at least, without any distinction being made between the true religion and false ones.”
    Leo XIII, Immortale Dei, #35: “…so far from one of the powers [of Church or State] separating itself from the other, or still less coming into conflict with it, complete harmony, such as is suited to the end for which each power exists, should be preserved between them.”
    There’s a lot more.
    Try also reading the article “State and Church” in the old Catholic Encyclopedia.
    “We believe that non-Catholic Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, atheists and all other faiths and ideologies, should all have the same freedom we have.”
    No we don’t. Freedom to profess error has been condemned.
    Dz 1613 and following, Dz1666, Dz 1674, Dz 1679, especially 1690:
    “[Some] do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, especially fatal to the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls, called by our Predecessor of recent memory, Gregory XVI, *insanity*; namely, that liberty of conscience and worship is the proper right of every man, and should be proclaimed and asserted in every correctly established society…and that by this right they can manifest openly and publicly and declare their own concepts, whatever they be, by voice, by print, or in any other way.” Also see Dz 1779, 1877, 1932.
    “We are confident enough to say we should all play on the same level playing field because in the end, as long as reasonable people are willing to think, the truth, beauty, and goodness of Catholicism will win hearts and minds every time.”
    If this were the case, the false freedom of speech and worship would not have been condemned. On the contrary, we believe in ORIGINAL SIN — the fact of which is proven multiple times every single day to every single reasonable person, so that, while it is a DOGMA of the Faith, it is not even close to being necessary to have Faith in order to know of its existence.
    That the great majority of persons in the world — and even Catholics (including you, Mr. Sullivan) — in practice deny its existence, and choose rather to believe that at least most people are “reasonable” and “willing to think”, is, ironically, just another of those multiple daily proofs of the existence of the very original sin you deny; original sin itself is making you deny original sin.
    You are no doubt generally a good guy, Mr. Sullivan, but you were raised in the New Church, not the Catholic Faith. You have taken for granted what your Modernist teachers have told you. Time for you to study instead what the Church teaches. Get yourself a copy of Denzinger, 1957 edition. Use it for bedside reading. Just look at random through the indices, and look up the authoritative statements concerning whatever topics interest you.
    You’ll find it very interesting — and likely disturbing.
    Hopefully, original sin will not make you turn away from the “the truth, beauty, and goodness of Catholicism” in disgust.
    If it does, that will be *another* proof of original sin.
    If it doesn’t, that will be a proof of actual grace.

  3. Fantastic response, NIN. CLASSIC!!!

  4. Good job, NIN. Let’s hope Mr. Sullivan takes your words to heart.

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