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Candidates’ policies, not faith, should take center stage, Prof. Slayton writes in New York Times

December 12, 2011

Professor Robert Slayton

A commentary by Robert Slayton, Ph.D., professor, Department of History, Wilkinson College, appeared in the Sunday, Dec. 11, issue of The New York Times. In the essay, titled “When a Catholic Terrified the Heartland,” Dr. Slayton describes the Catholic-bashing that presidential candidate Al Smith endured in his 1928 presidential campaign and draws parallels to the consternation some voters have in the current election season regarding Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith.

Of the 1928 campaign, Slayton writes: “Feelings were so strong that they swirled into a hurricane of abuse, a crescendo of fear and hate blasting through eight weeks. The school board of Daytona Beach, Fla., sent a note home with every student. It read simply: “We must prevent the election of Alfred E. Smith to the Presidency. If he is elected President, you will not be allowed to have or read a Bible.” Fliers informed voters that if Smith took the White House, all Protestant marriages would be annulled, their offspring rendered illegitimate on the spot.

Professor Slayton is the author of Empire Statesman: The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith. The complete essay may be read online at the New York Times website.

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