Despite an intensive war of words waged over many months, there seems little likelihood that the “religious issue” will have been thoroughly aired in the 1960 presidential election campaign.

Basic, relevant questions persist regarding claims which the Roman Catholic church exercises over the consciences of its faithful and unfaithful. Lack of authoritative answers has perpetuated Protestant anxieties, despite the apparent candor of the Roman Catholic candidate, Senator John F. Kennedy.

In the words of Dr. Henry P. Van Dusen, president of Union Theological Seminary, New York, “There are only two major questions in the so-called ‘religious issue’:

“What does the Roman Catholic church expect of its laymen in public office with respect to the church’s position on controversial issues?

“What is Kennedy’s attitude toward his church’s expectation?”

“The second question,” Van Dusen said in a letter to The New York Times last month, “has been answered by Senator Kennedy definitely and apparently to the satisfaction of all fair-minded Americans. The first question remains.”

The airing of the religious issue began in the editorial offices of Look magazine and, if judged by current press-TV coverage, “ended” in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.

Kennedy himself brought the debate into the open in an article in the March 3, 1959, issue of Look.

“I believe as a Senator,” he said, “that the separation of Church and State is fundamental to our American concept and heritage and should remain so.”

Kennedy also asserted that he was opposed to federal aid to parochial schools and appointment of an ambassador to the Vatican.

A year and a half later some 150 Protestant clergy and lay leaders from 37 denominations assembled in the Mayflower to attend the ...

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