Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Forgotten history:The 1st"minority"candidate&president

As a relatively senior blogger, age-wise--I'm 59--I remember one detail that seems to have escaped much attention in the election of President Obama, namely, that President John F. Kennedy was distinguished by more than his youth: He was also the first Roman Catholic ever elected president of the U.S. Alfred E. Smith may very well have lost the election to Herbert Hoover because he was a Catholic. It's a sign of the increasing acceptance of ethnic and religious diversity in the U.S. that a candidate's religion doesn't seem to be a make-or-break issue anymore.


Blogger PepGiraffe said...

I think if s/he were Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or anything not Jesus-based it would make a difference. But you're right, people aren't serious about religion anymore.

Wed Jan 21, 05:41:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

PepGiraffe, I'm not sure I would say that people aren't *serious* about religion anymore--I just think they're more tolerant. But you may be right about the readiness of U.S. voters to choose a non-Christian for president. Much emphasis seems to have been put on Obama being Christian, not Muslim.

Wed Jan 21, 08:29:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll concede I've grown very cynical and pessimistic about these things over the years, but I don't believe most of America is more tolerant about religion than in the past. I think things have eased a bit since the height of GWBush and the culture wars, but those currents still flow just below the surface. Those of us in the metropolitan centers, particularly on the coasts, may be a little insulated from it, but tolerance of difference, particularly religious, in much of our nation is hard to come by. I remember sitting in the Denver airport waiting for a connecting flight in the early a.m., and watched a frum guy don talit and tefillin to daven shacharit, praying behind a small partition way. One of the other waiting passengers found his behaviour frightening, and came back with security!

Thu Jan 22, 10:33:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

You may have a point, Steve. I've lived in northeast metropolitan areas all my life, so perhaps I've been insulated from ignorance and intolerance.

Thu Jan 22, 01:11:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Tzipporah said...

ha, sure - did you see some of the comments around Mitt Romney, when he was still running?

And when do you think we'll EVER have an atheist considered "electable"?

Thu Jan 22, 01:23:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shira -- Based on your own descriptions of your own level of observance here (and I realize its a frequent topic of our conversations), you do know that you would find yourself very uncomfortable in the vast majority of conservative congregations outside of the greater NY area, observance-wise (I have no doubt that many of these are warm, welcoming, committed congregations). Even within our home region, I was surprised to find a group of cantors attending a colleague's son's bar mitzvah to pull out a guitar to accompany their singing while the torah sslloooowwwllly made its way around the sanctuary to be returned to the aron (15 minutes is really too long). I was more surprised to find amplified music during kiddush.
As a good friend, quite frum, who lives in LA once said to me, "you do know that the conservative shuls outside of the northeast are very different than what you are used to, right?"

Thu Jan 22, 07:14:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Tzipporah, an atheist running for president is practically unimaginable. The U.S., for all of its official separation of church and state, is a very religious country.

Steve, you're off topic, but probably right. I'm a *traditional* egalitarian, and do tend to feel less comfortable in a synagogue in which there's instrumental music on Shabbat (Sabbath) or Yom Tov (a holiday). I have heard that non-Orthodox synagogues tend to be less traditional the farther one goes from the U.S. northeast. (Canadian Conservative Judaism tends to be more traditional but non-egalitarian, I've heard.)

Thu Jan 22, 11:00:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Amy said...

If we ever have a president who is athiest . . . what will happen to the "president's church" and the White House Lawn Easter Egg Hunt . . . or the White House tree . . .
or "Gd Bless America" . . . ?
I think our separation of institutional church and state is protective of the church and the state . . . but I don't think it in any way indicates a separation of religion/Protestant Christianity and government. As my friends in Europe and Australia often remind me - the US is a place riddled with religious rhetoric.

Sun Jan 25, 04:45:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Ariel, I'm just glad that the U.S. isn't *officially* Christian. Separation of church and state may not keep a Xmas tree off the White House lawn, but at least it does prevent any U.S. government--federal, state, or local--from forcing anyone to take an oath of office on a Christian bible.

Mon Jan 26, 11:30:00 AM 2009  

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