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Dual Loyalty in a Different Key: JFK, Faith, and the Presidency

Date: Monday, Aug. 16 | 7:00–8:30 PM EDT

What role should personal faith play in the decisions of government officials? In 1960, candidate John F. Kennedy delivered a speech seeking to allay fears that his Catholic faith would somehow impede his ability to serve as president. In so doing, Kennedy provided his own take on how faith and politics can run on separate tracks without influencing each other. But the speech, in many ways, raised more questions than answers. Should politicians adopt Kennedy’s approach and bracket faith off from their civic duties? Or are there alternative approaches to faith that both allow citizens to serve their country and still uphold core constitutional principles protecting the separation of church and state? In revisiting Kennedy’s speech, this class will explore these fundamental questions, thinking about how we as citizens, and as Jews, can respond to this core political challenge.

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