Would John F. Kennedy Have Supported a Mormon President Candidate?

Recently, CBS News did a story on the frontliners for the 2012 presidential candidates. Each person mentioned was given a list of campaign strengths and weaknesses. Two of the names mentioned are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Jon Huntsman Jr. and Mitt Romney. Amid claims that other candidate’s weaknesses included lack of fundraising power and name recognition ‘” among moral issues, CBS News cited belonging to the LDS faith as a weakness for both Huntsman and Romney.

And CBS News is not alone in their accusations. Other members of the media have pointed out that Huntsman and Romney’s religion could be a major drawback in their candidacy.

But not all people, nor politicians may see it that way. In fact, many past prominent politicians and presidents of the United States have spoken in favor of members of the LDS faith, stating the good that members of the Church have done in the world, their country, their communities, and in their homes.

President John F. Kennedy was one such cheerleader of the Mormon faith.

On Sept. 26, 1963, Kennedy delivered a speech in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. Less than two months after hosting President Kennedy for breakfast the morning after his speech, President David O. McKay mourned Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963. President McKay stated: “I am deeply grieved and shocked beyond expression at this tragedy. In behalf of the Church in all the world, I express sincere sympathy to Mrs. Kennedy, their children, and all of the close relatives and friends. . . . Only a few weeks ago it was our privilege to entertain the President, and now to think that he has gone we are stunned as well as shocked.”

Part of President Kennedy’s speech is as follows:

“Of all the stories of American pioneers and settlers, none is more inspiring than the Mormon trail. The qualities of the founders of this community are the qualities that we week in America, the qualities which we like to feel this country has, courage, patience, faith, self-reliance, perseverance, and, above all, an unflagging determination to see the right prevail. Let us remember that the Mormons of a century ago were a persecuted and prosecuted minority, harried from place to place, the victims of violence and occasionally murder, while today, in the short space of 100 years, their faith and works are known and respected the world around, and their voices heard in the highest councils of the country. As the Mormons succeeded, so America can succeed, if we will not give up or turn back.”

That was not the first time President Kennedy spoke about the Mormons. When he was campaigning for the presidency, he stopped in Utah to deliver a speech about the “new frontier.” As he warned about the dangers of the spread of “godless” communism, he appealed to the faith of Latter-day Saints and called upon them to continue strengthening the nation’s moral and spiritual fabric. Kennedy himself surmounted religious bias during his campaign and became the first Catholic to be elected president of the United States.

Although the media may point out that both Romney and Huntsman’s religious beliefs may hold them both back in the race for president, it’s a breath of fresh air to look to some of the political leaders of the past to see what their observations were on the Mormon faith. Time will tell if America will have a Mormon president or not, but Romney and Huntsman’s candidacy is certainly an opportunity for others to educate themselves on the faith.

To see a video of President Kennedy’s speech, click on this link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULmM8YMgq1I

Some of this article was taken from the book, Much Ado About Mormons, available www.deseretbook.com and www.seagullbook.com.