Both major political parties claim that the 1960 national election is one of the most critical elections in the history of our nation.  They base their claim in the light of increasing international conflict which is climaxed by the fear of Russia, rumors of war, and technological advances on the part of the aggressors.  Both parties have launched a vigorous campaign to secure control of the national administration.  We are in the midst of another political battle.  Both sides are claiming that they have the best solutions to all our problems.




In order to secure victory both parties strived to find men of ability and popular appeal.  Richard Nixon, the unanimous choice of the Republican Party, had little difficulty in securing the presidential nomination of his party after Nelson Rockefeller had refused to run the position. Although Nixon has been a controversial political figure, he also claims a colorful political background.  His father was the owner of a small grocery store-gas station.  Nixon graduated from Duke Law School in 1940.  He practiced law for several years until 1946 when he was elected to the House of Representatives.  He was re-elected in 1948.  In 1950 he became a U.S. Senator in California.  Only four years later he was nominated and elected to the Vice-Presidency.  After his re-election in 1956 he was nominated unanimously for the presidency this year.  He is the choice of his party.

John F. Kennedy waged a vigorous campaign in order to defeat four other leading candidates for the Democratic nomination.  He, unlike Nixon, originates from a wealthy family.  His father had several successful businesses including a chain of movie theaters, a ship building company, a chain of banks, and the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.  His father was a multi-millionaire.  Kennedy graduated from Harvard in 1940.  His first attempt at political office resulted in his being elected to the House of Representatives in 1946.  He was re-elected by great majorities in 1948 and 1950.  In 1952 he opposed and defeated incumbent Henry Cabot Lodge for U.S. Senator of Massachusetts.

It is striking to note that both candidates are very young.  If Kennedy is elected, he will be the youngest President to be elected.  T.R. Roosevelt was President at a younger age, but this was caused by the sudden death of President McKinley, Kennedy is forty-two which Nixon is forty-seven.  The constitution requires that the Presidential candidate be at least thirty five.




In his first address after announcing his candidacy in the Washington National Press Club, Kennedy started to press the attack against the Republicans.  He characterized President Eisenhower as a weak President.  Describing Eisenhower, he called him “a passive broker for conflicting interests, and a bookkeeper who feels that his work is done when the numbers on the balance sheet come out even.”  Kennedy claims that the next President must deal with the growing missile gap, the use of Communist China, the despair of underdeveloped nations, the explosive situation in Berlin and NATO, the lack of arms control agreement, and all the domestic problems of our farms, cities, and schools.

Nixon’s campaign is built on the Eisenhower policies.  He plans to implement these policies and build upon them.  Nixon claims that the Eisenhower administration deserves a vote of confidence from the American people.  He bases this claim on the fact that this administration got the U.S. out of one war, kept it out of other wars, and offers the best hope for peace without surrender in the years to come.  Nixon has peace, prosperity, and the President on his side.  He plans to add the “new-new” Nixon.

There are several distinguishing issues in the 1960 election.  The first is religion.  Although many people claim that religion should not be an issue in a political campaign, the fact nevertheless remains, it is an issue.  The Gallup Poll indicates chances are better for a Roman Catholic to be elected than it used to be.  In the late twenties Herbert Hoover, a Republican, carried seven Democratic states from the “Solid South.”  The predominantly Protestant South is still the heart of anti-Catholic attitudes Southerners express fears of a catholic spoils system with all Catholics getting good jobs or even more fantastic the Pope running the country for us.  The fact that Kennedy is a Roman Catholic was an asset to him in heavily catholic populated Massachusetts in state elections.  However, many conservative protestant groups have openly instructed their people not to vote for a Roman Catholic.  Many Protestants question Kennedy’s stand on his interpretation of the separation between church and state.  History has shown that the Romish Church will use her power whenever and wherever possible.

Another outstanding issue is the question of international affairs.  The Republicans claim that Nixon’s eight years of Vice-Presidential experience combined with Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge’s experience in the United Nations is an unbeatable combination.  Democrats maintain a few new faces could better cope with the Russians.  They call attention to the U-2 incident, the failure of the summit meeting and international distress at the present time.

In regards to our economic and domestic situation a Kennedy administration would push hard for a great expansion of government spending on desirable and essential public services.  This would be done because the Democrats feel that the public sector is starved and also because they believe that spending on everything from schools to missiles is the best way to spur our nation’s growth.  A Nixon administration would move much more cautiously in the direction of government spending.  The Republican view is that the public is not starved as the Democrats claim.  Moreover, the way for our nation to grow is through higher private spending rather than higher government spending.




Before the election is over many opinions and beliefs will be expressed.  Everyone of us should realize what the various candidates stand for.  In conclusion, may I remind all eligible voters to exercise their prerogative.  Be sure to vote, and vote with intelligence!


*The writer, a periodic contributor to Beacon Lights, is now teaching at Grand Rapids Christian High School.  We welcome his comprehensive analysis of the present political situation.

We are living in a competitive age. Almost everything we engage in is associated with competition in some manner. Competition breeds forth organization. To be competitive an organization or individual must produce organized efforts. Sports are competitive in nature. The questions whether or not sports should be organized is very significant. Many people confuse the terms physical education, recreation, and sports. Although they have a similar nature they are each specific fields. Physical education is a field of endeavor which has as its aim the development of physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially fit individuals through the medium of physical activities. Recreation is a worthwhile socially accepted leisure experience that provides immediate and inherent satisfaction to any individual who voluntarily participates in the activity. The field of sports is an organized competitive branch of both physical education and recreation. Everyone should participate in some form of physical education and recreation in as much as neither requires any specific skill. When an individual has a desire to develop a skill he participates in sports.
All three of these areas of physical activities have been growing by leaps and bounds in the past half century. The sports would to today is fascinating to say the least. Millions of people are participating in sports yearly. It cannot be determined how many more millions are spectators of these same events. Organized sports have been with us a comparatively short time when we consider that competition came into existence soon after the beginning of time. We compete in almost everything we do. Our entire educational system is based on competition. Competition provides us with a unique stimulus to perform to our very best.
Most people will grant the fact that competition in itself can be food. The question then is raised whether or not competition has to be associated with sports. The primary objective of all sports and games is to win. Take for example a simple game of checkers or chess. If one of the two players does not care whether he wins or loses, there is no sense in playing the game. The object is to win. If both players do not compete for the victory there is no contest. The same is true of any sport. Therefore we see that sports are necessarily competitive in nature.
Sports provide the individual who possesses physical talent the opportunity to develop his various skills. At the same time it provides the participant with a wholesome form of recreation. There is a strong correlation between the development of our physical and mental facilities. A strong body does not necessarily produce a strong mind, but seldom does a weak body produce a strong mind.
One of the major objections to participation in organized competitive sports is that they are performed during leisure time. Some people feel it is a waste of leisure time to participate in sports. To such people sports are sin in disguise. They feel that sports are a temptation to the Christian, and if the individual is to participate in any organized sport he should only compete with those within his church. They feel that leisure time could better be used for spiritual study and similar activities. It is true that sports can be over emphasized and in many cases are. It is imperative that we do not forsake our spiritual life for our physical wellbeing. No matter how strong the physical body may be, the mind is weak if it is not spiritually strong. We must balance the use of our leisure time. There is an increasing need for spiritual enlightening. We will never fulfill this need on earth. Just as Bible study strengthens the spiritual body, participation in sports strengthens the physical, mental, emotional, and social atmosphere of our bodies.
Sports are beneficial to the spectator as well as the participant. In many ways the spectator is challenged just as much as the participant. One many occasions our character is given the real test. Every athletic contest provides a winner and a loser. Both have equal opportunity to exhibit Christian sportsmanship.
Frequently the objection is raised that we as Christians just not entertain ourselves by competing with people outside the church. There is a grave misunderstanding of what an athletic contest really is when this objection is raised. We must understand that when we play outsiders in athletic contests we are playing against them, not with them. Our lives are filled with circumstances in which we must meet the world. We live with the world, but we are not one of them. Our physical bodies are the same whether we are in the church or of the world. Many of our competitive sports can be indulged in within the circles of various churches. It is difficult to conceive of a reasonable objection of competing in athletics against other church groups. Certainly the fact that our opponent may not be Protestant Reformed is not a logical basis for an argument against competitive sports. Success in competitive sports is determined by the physical skill of the individual not his religion.
Competitive sports are beneficial to both sexes, young and old. Women are in need of physical activities just as well as men. The physical activities for women are geared to fit their physical aptitudes. In many ways participation in organized competitive sports is like eating. If an individual eats the right amount of food and the right kind of food, it will have beneficial results. However, if he eats too much food and does not eat the right kind of food, it may have harmful results. Competitive sports are very similar. If a sport is over emphasized, it may be harmful: whereas, if it is adapted to one’s personal needs, it will be helpful. Almost everything that is done in excess is sin. Therefore it is imperative that the Christian maintain a well-balanced physical life. Sports can play an important role in every person’s life. Pleasure comes from engaging in the activity. Competitive sports are only a small part of the Christian’s life. It matters not if one is young or old, rich or poor, strong or weak, active or bedridden, man or woman, or boy or girl, competitive sports can contribute to the welfare of the individual.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 19 No. 1 February 1959

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

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