Saturday, June 30, 2007

American Politics & Catholic Policy

Time Magazine contains an article by Nancy Gibbs entitled "The Catholic Conundrum: The Lessons of JFK." Here is the opening paragraph.

  • John F. Kennedy's victory over Richard Nixon in 1960 came soaked in symbols and lessons. It was the triumph of vision over experience, rich over poor, East over West, the playboy over the prig. And because a Catholic, for the first time ever, defeated a Protestant, the outcome was said to mark the burial of religious bigotry. Kennedy provided the case study for candidates ever since who have faced some version of the Religion Test. But his was an advanced course in strategy, judgment and rhetoric, and it may be harder for future candidates to pass than they realize.


Though not a lengthy read, this article is, nevertheless, interesting. It provides a glimpse into the modern political realities of Religion in America, especially the overt emergence of Roman Catholics, the latest prototype of which was JFK. His use of modern communications and the Press provided him the platform to present Himself and his views to the Nation in a way which allowed him to overcome his huge Catholic handicap. This "way" of presenting Himself provides us the "interesting" aspect.



I'll state it simply. JFK accomplished the Presidency of the United States by exploiting the ignorance of the American People. The above article partially bears this out by providing some details of his struggle to overcome deep seated Anti-Catholic bias within the religious circles of certain segments of the American populace. And how did he overcome such insurmountable religious bigotry? He used the same tactic any good policitican uses. He spoke in terms that his audience understood without meaning what his audience thought he meant. He used religious terms that His Protestant audience could identify with. This same audience didn't understand that the Catholic meanings of these terms was inherently different. Nor did they understand the Catholic system which governed actions surrounding these different terms.

Nancy Gibbs details a few of the particulars of this message and strategy to woo these Protestant bigots. Surprisingly, it was the same type of message and strategy which had been employed by him since his first run for Congress in 1946. The only difference was in the immensity of the bias to be overcome on a national scale, whereas his Congressional task was to attract fellow Catholics, which he easily did. But both entailed wooing the Religious minded voter. Here's how he did it.

Instead of avoiding the issue in silence, he met it head on and personally determied the issue and language of the dialogue. Instead of the issue being Catholic vs. Protestant, he framed the dilaogue using "tolerance" as the operative word, thereby easing the inherent enmity of the two groups. He took the high middle ground. This strategy came about slowly but two occasions served to provide the impetus, opportunity and necessity to continue.

The first was just prior to the West Virginia primary. "On the Sunday night just before the vote, he paid for a half-hour TV special. The candidate reminded viewers of what a bold break with history it had been when the founders knit religious pluralism into the fabric of the state. And then he looked straight at the camera and observed that when Presidents place their hand on the Bible to swear their oath of office, they are swearing to support the constitutional separation of church and state. Kennedy raised his hand as if from an imaginary Bible. If a President breaks his oath, Kennedy declared, "he is not only committing a crime against the Constitution, for which the Congress can impeach him—and should impeach him—but he is committing a sin against God."

The second occasion was in response to a conservative Protestant Leadership conference held in Washington DC which was basically an anti Kennedy rally. He chose to address the Houston Ministerial Alliance.

  • "Kennedy told them he had come to talk about "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." And then he made the prescient point, relevant to any member of a religious minority then or in years to come: "While this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed," he warned, "in other years it has been—and may someday be again—a Jew or a Quaker or a Unitarian or a Baptist... Today I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you—until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped apart."
  • The speech was clean and raw and rational: he made the dispassionate arguments, but he also noted that his vision of a fair-minded America was the one he had fought for in the South Pacific and for which his brother had died in the war in Europe. He reaffirmed his complete independence from any Vatican agenda. But in the most dramatic flourish, he went further, in an extraordinary testimony to just how important that private faith was to him: "If the time should ever come—and I do not concede any conflict to be remotely possible—when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office." "

The average Protestant hearing these words couldn't help but hold JFK in high regard because they were the words of a man fulfilling his oath, which was sacred. According to Protestant tradition and Scripture interpretation, a person swearing an oath, even if that oath was in violation of a direct command of God, was still held accountable by God to fulfill the terms of the oath. JKF was telling them that he was just such a man of his word.

Not many Protestants, though, are aware of the various ways the Roman Catholic Church allows sin to be committed without being imputed to the account of a person before God. Under these various rules, the end justifies the means. This allows a person to pursue a course which, ultimately, is double minded and ambiguous. Any conclusions drawn by others is subject to which side of the ambiguity they happen to be on. Regardless of the thoughts of others, actions of this type can and are officially absolved by Leaders, with the approval of God. Those who may view these actions as sinful or dishonorable are deemed to be intolerant.

If you don't agree with this view of JFK, especially his supposedly serious attitude regarding his personal oath, I ask you to simply consider the state of his oath of Marriage towards the First Lady while he was in office. Enough said.

Unfortunately, nothing has changed in the last four decades. Leaders continue to exploit the ignorance of the populace, especially among the religious ranks. And its not a Democrat - Republican issue. It's across the political spectrum. A wink, a nod, a smile..........and a smooth lie.......all in the name of keeping an oath. All of this from the honorable world of Politics!

The Importance of Old Glory in our Public Houses Of Worship

Last month, an official of the United Methodist Church created a firestorm when he advocated removing the American Flag from Methodist Churches. He equated the presence of Old Glory to implicit agreement with American Policies which tend to violate the Words of Jesus and used the example of the Nazi Flag placed in German Churches prior to and during WWII. It didn't take long for his suggestion to be officially countered by other Methodist Leaders.

This entire scenario is interesting, interesting because of the manner in which the true components of this issue are glossed over and never really addressed. It is also interesting because this manner is standard modus operandi when major points are addressed by those in leadership in this country. It matters not whether the leaders are Secular or Religious.

The first accusation made, implicit or otherwise, is that the American Flag is an idol. Standing alone, this statement is, indeed, bold! It puts the Flag in a position of something or someone to be worshipped. To the Modern American mind, especially the Modern Christian American mind, this is completely unthinkable. After all, we know that God forbids such activity. Worship is to be limited exclusively to Him. And isn't that exactly what happens in houses of worship across America, the exclusive worship of God Almighty? To worship the Flag would be UnGodly!

One of the reasons given that this implication is ludicrous is that Flags in Houses of Worship are unobtrusive and not considered to be a central focus of the decor or activities in a House of Worship. Therefore, to refer to a flag as an idol, because they occupy what many consider to be a particularly unimportant position, is considered to be without merit.

So I ask you. Have you ever taken time to ponder the position of the Flags in houses of Worship? I say "flags" because usually there are two flags flown in most houses of Worship in the United States; the American Flag and the Christian Flag. In light of the Methodist controversy, maybe you should locate them the next time you visit a public House of Worship, regardless of the denomination.

I assure you, though, that they are not placed haphazardly. Unless there was a temporary reason for the Flags being out of place in a public building, Houses of Worship included, I have always seen the American Flag and the Christian Flag consistently in the same position. Why? There's one reason and one reason only. IT"S THE LAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's true. Federal Law prescribes a whole set of actions concerning every aspect of the Flag, its maintenance and care, handling, disposal and, yes, its position within public buildings. This includes its position within the building and also its position in relation to any other flags which may be displayed in proximity to it. And there's only one position allowed by law; complete and total preeminence. That's right, the American Flag is on all occasions to be above all other flags. And it is to always have the horizontal position of power and prominence, to the right. Legally, there are no exceptions! I find it interesting that Houses of Worship consistently and properly place their flags according to existing Law. To do otherwise would make all participants law breakers as well as UnAmerican!

So, where does this place the Christian Flag, the banner supposedly representing the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ? Are we to believe that the Creator of the World is relegated to an inferior status in relation to the American Flag? Are we to believe that the American Flag is deserving of Higher honor than the One Who ordained American Governmental Institiutions?

It seems as if we have a Conundrum.

More to come on this issue. Lots More!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Legacy of Tupper Saussy

There are times when our lives are interrupted by personalities of such a large magnitude that we come to expect too much from them. We look to them to be someone they are not. We want them to be to us someone they really are not. And when they don't meet our expectations, we tend to become disillusioned and disappointed in the person.Frederick Tupper Saussy was just such a large person in my life. To the credit of Tupper, he refused to be someone he was not. He refused to meet the misdirected aspirations of other people for himself. Tupper was Tupper. He couldn't, and wouldn't, be anyone else.For that I am grateful. I'm grateful that He wouldn't bend. I'm grateful for not expecting him to. I liked him the way he was. I had no desire to change him.

So, I was able to enjoy him and appreciate the impact he had on me as well as others. God brought him into my life for a reason. Who was I to change that? I'm glad that I didn't because I believe Tupper was used in my life in exactly the manner God intended. And because that influence was highly spiritual, that spiritual legacy will continue for years to come.

The influence began with my initial visit to his website, tuppersaussy.com. This was soon followed up by reading his well crafted work Rulers of Evil, a portion of which can be accessed at rulersofevil.com. It continued for years in our correspondence about the nuances and details of God's political constucts in the World, most of which he came to intimately know in a manner not many of us would have chosen. But, that's Tupper. And his legacy continues.

To begin to know Tupper, read these delightful words from his son Haun Saussy. Very appropriate, indeed.

For those desiring to take part in that continuing legacy, please visit All Things Tupper. Share what you desire for others to know about yourself, Tupper and the Christ we serve.