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Publication: Conservative Review
God Bless Ted Kennedy

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               THE CONSERVATIVE REVIEW   
                   May 23, 2008
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God Bless Ted Kennedy
By Cal Thomas

These days, people on "one side" of the political spectrum 
are not supposed to cooperate, much less have a personal 
relationship with anyone on the "other side." Siding with 
"the enemy" can get you branded a compromiser, a sellout, 
or fool. While it is true that on too many occasions, 
conservatives have had their ideological pockets picked by 
liberals whose favor they curried, that is no excuse for 
hating people because of their political beliefs.

In the case of my 25-year relationship with Sen. Edward 
Kennedy, our ideological pockets have remained secure, 
but our friendship has been something I have treasured.

It began in 1983 when I received a call from a Washington 
Post reporter. I was working for the Moral Majority at the 
time and a computer had spit out a membership card for Sen. 
Kennedy and then inadvertently sent it to him. The reporter 
asked if I wanted the card back. "No," I said. "We don't 
believe anyone is beyond redemption. In fact, I hope Sen. 
Kennedy comes and speaks at Liberty Baptist College (now 
Liberty University)," the school founded by the late Jerry 
Falwell.

A few days later, I received a call from Kennedy's chief 
of staff. "The senator accepts your invitation." I was 
stunned and so was Falwell, but Kennedy came and was well 
received. He spoke on faith, truth and tolerance and his 
remarks are as relevant today as they were when he uttered 
them.

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While some might disagree on the way he applies such 
notions to the liberal policies in which he believes; 
few would contest most of the principles he articulated 
that night.

Kennedy said: "I am an American and a Catholic; I love 
my country and treasure my faith. But I do not assume 
that my conception of patriotism or policy is invariably 
correct, or that my convictions about religion should 
command any greater respect than any other faith in this 
pluralistic society."

What student or advocate of the First Amendment would 
disagree with that? Is that not what the Founders had 
in mind when they prohibited a federally established 
religion while simultaneously guaranteeing its free 
exercise? Kennedy continued, "When people agree on public 
policy, they ought to be able to work together, even 
while they worship in diverse ways. For truly, we are all 
yoked together as Americans, and the yoke is the happy 
one of individual freedom and mutual respect." 


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Again, not bad. He added: "Separation of church and 
state cannot mean an absolute separation between moral 
principles and political power. The challenge today is 
to recall the origin of the principle, to define its 
purpose, and refine its application to the politics of 
the present."

The issues outlined in Kennedy's speech still resonate 
today, except now it is the Democratic presidential 
candidates who are talking more about faith and public 
policy, not the Republican candidate. 

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Getting to know Sen. Kennedy that night and being with him 
on many subsequent occasions, helped me understand him on 
a level far different from TV images and direct-mail appeals 
that ask for $25 dollars to keep him from doing things that 
will "ruin" America (the Left sent out similar appeals for 
money to save America from my side).

I came to see Sen. Kennedy not as a symbol, but as a 
fellow human being who does not get up in the morning 
seeking ways to harm the country. I know of things he has 
done for the poor and homeless on his own time and in his 
own way without a press release or a desire for public 
approval. I know of other hurts and concerns about which 
I would never speak.

In our poisoned political atmosphere, there are few 
friendships like this, at least few anyone can speak of 
publicly for fear of political ruin. It ought to be a 
privilege (it is certainly a command) for my conservative 
Christian friends to pray for Sen. Kennedy that he might
be healed and restored to health. It is certainly mine 
and I don't care who on "my side" knows it. 

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End of CONSERVATIVE REVIEW   
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