Newspaper Articles

Charleston Daily Mail
April 6, 1960

In Coming To The State Sen. Kennedy Invites A Political Test Of Religion


Several days ago our cartoonist suggested pictorially that in entering West Virginia's Democratic primary Sen. Kennedy takes on a precarious assignment. Indeed, along with all the other hazards of running for office, Sen. Kennedy in West Virginia must face the religious issue posed by his Catholicism and balance it with his other attributes.

For suggesting as much several of our readers took us sternly to task, charging that the Daily Mail had injected religion into the campaign and done its worst to revive the fires of bigotry and intolerance.

We plead "Not Guilty" and call as our first witness Sen. Kennedy. Speaking the other day on "Face the Nation," he made it quite clear why he is coming to West Virginia.

It is not because he hopes to pick up an instructed delegation to the Democratic convention in Los Angeles. The delegation, as everyone knows, will not be bound by the primary returns.

It is not because West Virginia's electoral college vote figures significantly in Sen. Kennedy's aspirations. Other things being equal, he could well afford to overlook West Virginia's numerical effect upon the national poll and spare himself the time and expense of a statewide campaign.

But there is one respect in which West Virginia may have an important bearing upon his chances for the nomination: Of all the states, West Virginia is the most Protestant and the least Catholic in its religious affiliations.

Sen. Kennedy knows this. He also knows and says that if he is to get the nomination he must prove to the convention that his religion is not a handicap. What better place to prove this, then, than in West Virginia where if religion is a factor in politics Sen. Kennedy will be at the severest disadvantage?

Sen. Kennedy, who is as realistic as he is religious, raised the question. We didn't.

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