Thanks to Freethought Radio (9/11/10 episode) for reminding me of this wonderful speech, given by John F. Kennedy to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in Houston, Texas on September 12, 1960.
This is just one excerpt, but there is a wonderful page completely devoted to this speech at the American Rhetoric website*, where you can find the speech in its entirety, as well as video, audio and several different downloadable document types of JFK’s speech.
“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 accept 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.”
The American Rhetoric website has an awesome tagline: “Rationalize rhetoric and it speaks to your mind; personify her and she speaks to your soul.”