THE JFK ASSASSINATION: A TURNING POINT
The 40-year anniversary fever has mostly died down now. The Kennedy hagiographies, the conspiratorial (or anti-conspiratorial) �specials,� and the �what-if� pipe dreams of a Camelot-gone-sour are over. I think it is safe for me to air a bit of my own speculation.
John F. Kennedy, Jr. was a wicked and corrupt man. He was a flagrant adulterer at a time when such things were still grounds for divorce � not to mention a death-knell to a political career. He had life-long foolhardiness that led him to dangerously stand on the brink of any available precipice � even when that would endanger the whole nation as it did at the Bay of Pigs. He knowingly allowed his father to �buy� his election in critical states. This much is clear from the revelations that only surfaced many years after his death. At the time he was alive, some in the press corps knew about some of it, but demurely looked aside and did not report on it. At the time, JFK was seen as the pinnacle of human hope and optimism.
Those around my age recall the heady feeling of that time. We had, by God�s grace, beaten back the Nazis in WWII, but had quickly lost our remembrance of the �God�s grace� part of the equation. We were the super-power. We had won the war against evil. Oh, yes, we acknowledged God in a civil sort of way, but not so much as we would share the glory of our victory with Him.
The United Nations promised a hope of international cooperation. The pesky Soviets would, we knew, be defeated by our might and power in a Cold War. We showed them, too. After they declared their godless paradise, we declared our �god� � our civil god � by adding �God� on to the money and sticking it into the pledge of allegiance. That�ll show�em!
The placid 1950�s produced a flaccid Church � more interested in maintaining respectability than decrying the monumental pride of the nation that had now sequestered God into a convenient box ready for our use as a magic amulet against encroaching atheist ideologies.
Along came JFK � full of youth and vigor. He was full of progressive, hopeful ideas like the Peace Corps, a plan to land on the Moon, and a national push for physical fitness that even had slugs like me out attempting the famous 50-mile hikes. Civil rights were on the rise.
The future was bright! It was a humanist�s dream. We could do anything � couldn�t we?
I still remember the natural high of those days. Certainly there were those who hated Kennedy, but there was a general trust in government and man�s (at least American man�s) ability to defeat all other systems and solve any problem.
Bang! Bang! Bang! (And for the conspiracy-minded, Bang!) It was all over.
The nation had a lot of its growing optimism invested in Kennedy, and now he was gone. The cynical, manipulative, and visibly-consummate politician, Lyndon Johnson stepped into JFK�s shoes � and he obviously didn�t fill them. Suddenly there was an explosion of suspicion, cynicism, and pessimism. No one now trusted government�s decision on Vietnam, on race relations, even on the assassination investigation.
It was almost as though JFK embodied everything of humanistic optimism and it was crushed when he died.
Seeing the passing parade of Kennedy memorabilia over the last weeks, got me to thinking if maybe God hadn�t gotten tired of being relegated to the place of a national, good-luck charm. If He hadn�t gotten weary of being seen as an add-on to distinguish our humanism from the Soviet humanism. If he hadn�t decided to show us how empty it was to trust in man � and allowed the assassination.
As I thought about this, I recalled how many people had pointed to the indicators of moral decay in the U.S. and how they coincided with the U.S. Supreme Court�s knockout punch outlawing prayer and Bible reading in public schools. Now those prayers had been around for a long time � from back when mentioning God was a serious matter � unlike the frivolous additions to the money and the pledge. The prayers had history and gravitas. Now they were summarily shunted aside.
Was marginalizing God in this way the last straw for God?
I decided to look up the Supreme Court case � Abington School District v. Schempp. It was decided on June 17, 1963 � five months before the assassination.
� 2003 Paul deParrie - All Rights Reserved
Paul deParrie is a 17-year veteran of anti-abortion street activism, a preacher, and a social critic. He is the author of "Dark Cures: Have Doctors Lost Their Ethics" (Huntington House) available at NewsWithViews Online Store Front. deParrie may be reached at: [email protected].
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"As I thought about this, I recalled how many people had pointed to the indicators of moral decay in the U.S. and how they coincided with the U.S. Supreme Court�s knockout punch outlawing prayer and Bible reading in public schools. Now those prayers had been around for a long time � from back when mentioning God was a serious matter � unlike the frivolous additions to the money and the pledge."