Religion et société aux États-Unis : la Constitution expliquée par Kennedy (1960)

Religion et société aux États-Unis depuis les années 1890

D’origine irlandaise et de confession catholique, John Kennedy est candidat à l’élection présidentielle de 1960. Dans un enregistrement conservé par le Museum of the Moving Image, il répond à une question sur son affiliation religieuse. Son interlocutrice lui demande s’il ne serait pas partagé entre deux loyautés en cas d’élection à la présidence, celle qu’il doit à son Église, celle qu’il doit à son État. Sa réponse s’appuie sur l’article 6 de la Constitution et sur le premier amendement. Élu à la présidence le 8 novembre, Kennedy est le premier président catholique dans l’histoire des États-Unis et le seul à ce jour.


Woman: You would be divided between two loyalties, to your church and to your state, if you were to be elected President?

Kennedy: The question is whether I think that, if I were elected President, I would be divided between two loyalties: my church and my state.

Let me just say that I would not. I have sworn to uphold the Constitution, in the fourteen years I’ve been in Congress, in the years I was in the service. The Constitution provides in the First Amendment that Congress shall make no laws abridging the freedom of religion. I must say I believe in it; I think it’s the only way that this country can go ahead. Many countries do not believe in it. Many countries have unity between church and state – I would be completely opposed to it. And I say that whether I’m elected President, or whether I continue as a Senator, or whether I’m a citizen. That is my view based on a long experience. […]

Secondly, Article 6 of the Constitution says there shall be no religious test for office. That’s what was written in the Constitution: Jefferson, Washington, and all the rest. They said every American will have an opportunity. Now you cannot tell me that the day I was born it was said I could never run for President because I wouldn’t meet my oath of office. I would not have come here if I didn’t feel that I was going to get the complete opportunity to run for office as a fellow American in this state. I would not run for it if in any way I didn’t feel that I could do the job.

The Living Room Candidate

Voir également :

1960 — Kennedy discusses Religion in Politics

Kennedy développe la même argumentation dans un discours prononcé devant une assemblée de pasteurs protestant le 12 septembre 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, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishoners for whom to vote, where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

JFK on the Separation of Church and State

Le discours sur le site du JFK Presidential Library and Museum :

Address of Senator John F. Kennedy to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, September 12, 1960

Un discours du président Obama sur la liberté religieuse

Barack Obama défend les mêmes principes dans des circonstances différentes le 13 août 2010.

Our Founders understood that the best way to honor the place of faith in the lives of our people was to protect their freedom to practice religion. In the Virginia Act of Establishing Religion Freedom, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.” The First Amendment of our Constitution established the freedom of religion as the law of the land. And that right has been upheld ever since.

Celebrating Ramadan at the White House‬‪

L’article VI de la Constitution de 1787

L’article VI en anglaisL’article VI en français

Le premier amendement à la Constitution

Le Bill of Rights en anglaisLe Bill of Rights en français

Les commentaires de la Cornell Law School

The First Amendement

Sur la « clause d’établissement » :

The Establishment Clause

Sur la « clause de libre exercice » :

The Free Exercise Clause