The Making of a Catholic President: Kennedy vs. Nixon 1960

By Shaun A. Casey | Go to book overview

2
THE LAY
OF THE LAND

Harold Fey was not a typical player in American presidential politics. Yet the exceptional circumstances of 1960 thrust him into the arena by virtue of his prominent position within liberal Protestantism. In 1959, the Christian Century was the most important publication in the American Protestant world.1 Fey was coming into his prime, having taken over as editor in 1955. Paid circulation was at 35,000, and the magazine was planning a fundraising campaign to establish a $500,000 sustaining fund. In a 1958 speech to the magazine’s stakeholders, Fey described his position as editor as free from outside influence.2 As he saw it, the Chicago-based magazine’s role included forging a Protestant consensus on the issues of the day, including the separation of church and state, promoting Christian unity and ecumenism, raising issues of religious and civil freedom, and offering a Christian commentary on national and international affairs.3 Interestingly, Fey saw the Century’s primary journalistic competitor to be not the New York–based Christianity and Crisis, led by the intellectual giant Reinhold Niebuhr, but the newly launched evangelical magazine Christianity Today.

The membership lists of the Christian Century Foundation Board and the foundation itself read like a who’s who of the American Protestant establishment.4 Fey was thus well positioned to shape Protestant opinion on Kennedy’s candidacy directly in terms of explicit editorial opinion and indirectly as the magazine reflected the state of liberal Protestant thought. As thousands of clergy, professors, and lay members read its pages, Fey’s influence on liberal Protestant views of

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The Making of a Catholic President: Kennedy vs. Nixon 1960
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • 1- The Ghost of Al Smith 3
  • 2- The Lay of the Land 30
  • 3- First Skirmishes 52
  • 4- Preparing for Battle 81
  • 5- Mobilizing the Troops 101
  • 6- Guerrilla Warfare 123
  • 7- A Lion in a Den of Daniels 151
  • 8- The Endgame 177
  • Epilogue 200
  • Notes 207
  • Index 235
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