by Edd Doerr
Baltimore Catholic Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, according to reports in the Wash Post, Balt Sun and other papers on 8/9/11, has sharply criticized Maryland Gov Martin O'Malley for agreeing to support legislation favoring same-sex marriage and for his failure this year to support legislation to to divert public funds to religiously discriminatory private schools through business tax credits.
O'Malley responded by telling the archbishop that "when shortcomings in our laws bring about a result that is unjust, I have a public obligation to try to change that injustice".
I sent the following letter to the Post:
"Governor O'Malley is to be commended for standing up to Archbishop O'Brien on the same-sex marriage issue. And the archbishop need to be reminded of what John F. Kennedy said to the Houston Protestant ministers on September 12, 1960: '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 .... where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference .... where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace."
Parenthetically, let me add that Paul Blanshard, whom then Humanist editor Paul Kurtz invited to join me in writing a church-state column in The Humanist back around 1970 (a column I continued for thirty years after Blanshard retired from writing), met with Kennedy and Ted Sorensen in the White House shortly after Kennedy took office to discuss church-state issues. Blanshard told me that there was no doubt in his mind whatever that Kennedy meant every word he said about church-state separation.
Wouldn't it be great if today's presidential aspirants would echo Kennedy?
By the way, the Kennedy quote and a great deal more may be found in the book Great Quotations on Religious Freedom, edited by Al Menendez and myself (Prometheus, 2002). The 250-page book contains 730 indexed quotations covering every aspect of church-state and religious liberty issues. It is available from me for $10 (Box 6656, Silver Spring, MD 20916).