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Austin Huyboom
Miss Stone
English 1010 Period 1
3 November 2015
A Catholic President
The 1960 election caused a stir when the catholic nominee appeared with the
arrival of John F. Kennedy. He was a democratic nominee the running to be the 35th
president of the United States and was a supporter of racial integration and the space
race, which happened successfully in his term, and ended abruptly with his
assassination in 1963.
The speech by John F. Kennedy, “Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial
Association” was delivered on the 12th of September, 1960 in the Rice Hotel in
Houston, Texas. It was also broadcasted to the country on television. The speech, which
was accessed in the website American Rhetoric is about Kennedy addressing the
separation of church and state, and why him being a catholic won’t affect his presidency
and that it is separate from the state.
Kennedy was running for president in the 1960 election, which no catholic
nominee has ever been elected president before. He starts his speech stating the
current problems of the 60’s such as the spread of communist influence, hungry
children, and people losing farms. He states he believes in fixing America, rather than
what the church believes, and America is not bound by any religion. “Today, I may be
the victim, but tomorrow it may be you” (Kennedy). He served in the war, along with his

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brother who died in the war and he swears that he will faithfully execute the office of the
United States.
In John F. Kennedy’s speech he successfully addressed the nation that he is not
defined by his religion, but rather his self, which helped him define himself as the
democratic candidate rather than the catholic candidate. He used multiple appeals such
as ethos in 14 years in congress and serving in the South Pacific War. “I can, "solemnly
swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to
the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution -- so help me God””
(Kennedy).
Kennedy, who would be the first Catholic president if elected, faced a tough
challenge of combating religious intolerance. Many people believed that if he was a
Catholic, he would transform the nation into a Catholic country. He delivered the speech
to inform the country that he will not impose any religious beliefs on the country and he
insists that there are greater problems to worry about than what his religion is. The
1960’s were a time of which there were large civil issues, an advancement of space
travel in the space race. “...war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no
religious barrier” (Kennedy).
The first rhetorical strategy Kennedy uses is logos through the fact that the
election has been obscured due to the fact that he is being defined by his religion rather
than his solutions to problems that were apparent during the campaign. “I am the
Democratic Party's candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic.” He also
appeals to everyone rather than just himself. “Finally, I believe in an America where
religious intolerance will someday end, where all men and all churches are treated as

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equals, where every man has the same right to attend or not to attend the church of his
choice” (Kennedy). “I believe in a President whose views on religion are his own private
affair, neither imposed upon him by the nation, nor imposed by the nation upon him as a
condition to holding that office.”
Another key element in his speech is the fact that he has a lot of ethos. He has
been subject to denial and questioning because of him being Catholic. One might
believe that he actually doesn’t support America and that he wants to turn it Catholic,
which is countered by the fact that Kennedy, himself, served in the South Pacific War. If
he is a Catholic and will die for his country, he clearly cares about the country more. “...
this is the kind of America I fought for in the South Pacific, and the kind my brother died
for in Europe” Kennedy was physically there, serving his country which makes him
extremely credible, especially since his brother, who is a Catholic, died for his country.
Kennedy also served 14 years in the Congress which shows his experience and why he
wants to be judged fairly, rather than off of his religion. As Kennedy stated, “I am the
Democratic Party's candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic.”
Kennedy logically creates an appeal to patriotism. “But if this election is decided
on the basis that 40 million Americans lost their chance of being President on the day
they were baptized, then it is the whole nation that will be the loser, in the eyes of
Catholics and non-Catholics around the world, in the eyes of history, and in the eyes of
our own people.” And throughout his speech he defines the United States as “America,”
rather than “my country” and places himself as a part of the country rather than being
above it which is a great strategy to sound patriotic and humble.

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In John F. Kennedy’s speech he was able to successfully address the nation that
he is not defined by his religion, but rather his self. This helped him define himself as
the democratic candidate rather than the catholic candidate by using multiple appeals
such as ethos in 14 years in Congress and serving in the South Pacific War. He brought
it to a wider audience stating that it can happen to anyone, along with making appeals
to patriotism with his word choice.

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Works Cited
"John. F. Kennedy." Wikipedia. N.p., 3 Nov. 2001. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.
Kennedy, John. "Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association."American
Rhetoric. N.p., 2001. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.