Three examples of the rhetoric of religious identity in national politics: Smoot, Kennedy, and Romney.
Here's an interesting comparison and contrast. Three speeches addressed to similar concerns about how a candidate's religion will color his reception in the national political arena.
The first was given by Reed Smoot (Utahn Senator, LDS Apostle, and forerunner of Wilford Brimley, famous walrus impersonator) on the floor of the Senate in 1907. Several Senators had opposed Smoot sitting in the Senate charging that his religious obligations disqualified him from performing his civic obligations in the Senate. The speech is reprinted, with some background and commentary, in the Spring 2007 Issue of Utah Historical Quarterly (Click here for online version). The article starts on page 100, and the speech on 105.
The second is the famous JFK Speech given in 1960 to convince protestant ministers that his religious obligations would not interfere with his civic obligations as president. You can read, listen to, or watch the speech at NPR.
The third is the Romney speech given Wednesday to convince GOP voters in Iowa that his membership in the Mormon church does not disqualify him from being a good Republican candidate for President. I put up video and links to text and audio here on this blog the other day.
This being the middle of the finals cram, I'm not going to post an extensive exposition of my thoughts. But I find the similarities and differences interesting. What do the readers think?