When John F. Kennedy was nominated for president, a lot of Americans started worrying about a Catholic in the White House. Not Harry Truman. With a dig at Kennedy’s old man, Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, Truman said: “I’m more afraid of the Pop than the Pope!”

But most Americans weren’t so open-minded. In fact, the only way Kennedy could save his candidacy was by giving a speech to the Houston Ministerial Conference in which he affirmed that, as a Catholic American, his first loyalty was to the Constitution, and not to the Vatican.

Now it’s Mitt Romney’s turn. On Thursday night, in his own speech, as a Mormon American, he will make the same pledge.

If it’s important for Romney to give that speech, it’s also important for all Americans to hear it — especially evangelical Christians. It’s time for them to recognize that we are not a Christian country, that there is no established religion in this country, and that there is no religious test for public office.

We should vote for candidates because of where they stand on the issues alone, and not because of their religion. Baptist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Catholic, Jew, Mormon or Muslim, it doesn’t make any difference.

Hell, someday we may even be open-minded enough to vote for an atheist.

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