John Kerry on Faith
An ongoing collection of quotes from Kerry about faith, his relationship with God, religion & politics, and more.
On Separation of Church and State
"There is separation of church and state in America. We have prided ourselves on that all of my lifetime.... I fully intend to continue to practice my religion as separately from what I do with respect to my public life, and that's the way it ought to be in America."
Quoted in the Boston Globe, April 12, 2004
"I will say I personally would not choose--though I'm a person of faith--to insert it as much as this president does. I think it crosses a line, and it sort of squeezes the diversity that the presidency is supposed to embrace. It creates a discomfort level. You have to balance it, and be very thoughtful about it."
Quoted in Lady's Home Journal, August 2003
"It's important to not have the Church instructing politicians."
Quoted The American Spectator, July 7, 2004
"We have a separation of church and state in this country. As John Kennedy said very clearly, I will be a President who happens to be Catholic, not a Catholic President."
Quoted in Time Magazine, "A Test of Kerry's Faith," April 5, 2004
On His Personal Faith
"I have tried and so much of that effort has been nourished by my faith. I know there are some Bishops who have suggested that as a public official I must cast votes or take public positions - on issues like a woman's right to choose and stem cell research - that carry out the tenets of the Catholic Church. I love my Church; I respect the Bishops; but I respectfully disagree."
Speech at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, October 24, 2004
"I respect everything that the president has said and certainly respect his faith. I think it's important and I share it. I think that he just said that freedom is a gift from the Almighty. Everything is a gift from the Almighty. And as I measure the words of the Bible, and we all do, different people measure different things: the Koran, the Torah or, you know, Native Americans who gave me a blessing the other day had their own special sense of connectedness to a higher being. And people all find their ways to express it. I was taught - I went to a church school, and I was taught that the two greatest commandments are: love the Lord your God with all your mind, your body and your soul; and love your neighbor as yourself. And frankly, I think we have a lot more loving of our neighbor to do in this country and on this planet.
"The president and I have a difference of opinion about how we live out our sense of our faith. I talked about it earlier when I talked about the works and faith without works being dead. I think we've got a lot more work to do. And as president I will always respect everybody's right to practice religion as they choose or not to practice, because that's part of America."
Third Presidential Debate, Tempe, AZ, October 13, 2004
"I began life baptized and confirmed as Catholic. I served as an altar boy. There was a period in my life when I thought I might even be a priest--as a young person. And then I went to Vietnam. And in Vietnam I think most of the time I wore a rosary around my neck when we went into battle. So I believe. I still believe. And I have great personal faith and I think the more you learn about the universe; the more you learn about the unanswered questions, the harder it is for many people not to, in my judgment. But many people chose not to and I understand that and I respect that. That's what I want to get to. We are a country founded on the notion of diversity and our freedom of choice and freedom of religion."
From a new campaign ad released July 26, 2004
"[After the Vietnam War, Kerry went through a] "period of a little bit of anger and agnosticism, but subsequently, I did a lot of reading and a lot of thinking and really came to understand how all those terrible things fit.""
Time Magazine, "A Test of Kerry's Faith," April 5, 2004
"Anticipating my candidacy, the Boston Globe looked into my family history. the paper discovered that one hundred years ago, my paternal grandfather was an Austrian Jew named Fritz Kohn, who changed his name to Kerry and converted to Catholicism shortly before immigrating to Massachusetts. I didn't know this because my grandfather died when my father was just five years old... One thing that hasn't changed for me as a result of this revelation is my Catholic heritage. I am a believing and practicing Catholic, married to another believing and practicing Catholic. And being an American Catholic at this particular moment in history has three particular implications for my own point of view as a candidate for presidency.
"The first two follow directly from the two great commandments set forth in the Scriptures: our obligations to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds and to love our neighbors as ourselves. The first commandment means we must believe that there are absolute standards of right and wrong. They may not always be that clear, but they exist, and it is our duty ti honor them as best we can.
"The second commandment means that our commitment to equal rights and social justice, here and around the world, is not simply a matter of political fashion or economic and social theory but a direct command from God...Christian bigotry and intolerance are nothing less than a direct affront to God's law and a rejection of God's love.
"There is a third facet of being an American Catholic. To a larger extent than Catholics elsewhere, we have supported and relied upon the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state to guarantee our right to worship and our liberty of conscience. That tradition, strongly advanced by John F. Kennedy in his quest to become our first Catholic president, helped make religious affiliation a nonissue in American politics. It should stay that way."
Excerpted from Kerry's book, "A Call to Service"