JULY 25, 1949
HYDE PARK, Sunday—Our telephone number here is supposed to be a private number, but beginning Friday morning it rang every few minutes and Miss Thompson spent her day answering calls from newspapers, radio stations and individuals. All of them had read either advance copies or press reports of a letter addressed to me by Cardinal Spellman. According to the postmark, the letter was mailed to me special delivery at 7 p.m. on Thursday in New York City.
Unfortunately, the Cardinal's secretary is apparently unaware that in a rural post office special delivery stamps mean nothing, since there is no such thing as special delivery and our mail does not reach us, as a rule, until between 11 a.m. and 12 noon.
All this meant that Miss Thompson was at first completely mystified by the calls and I had to tell her to say there was no comment, since I could hardly comment on something which I had not yet seen.
Now that I have had time to read the letter carefully, I shall, of course, answer the Cardinal personally and in detail. However, since I consider it important that there should be as little bitterness as possible engendered among the Protestant, Catholic and Jewish groups, or any other religious groups in our nation, I shall not discuss this question any further on a personal basis with Cardinal Spellman. One's basic beliefs must be stated on matters which we think important, but that can be done as citizens and not as members of any particular religious faith.
I want freedom of religion to prevail in this country. I want no religious prejudice and I want absolute freedom of worship and religious teaching; but at the same time I believe in separation of church and state. I want goodwill among people of all religions, no matter what their differences may be on matters which are strictly questions to be settled objectively on the basis of what is best for the citizens of our country as a whole.
My record is that of support of Alfred E. Smith, a Roman Catholic Governor of this state, in every campaign that he made. I spoke from many platforms for him, and I ran the women's work for him when he was candidate for President of the United States. I was shocked in that campaign by the extent of what I considered bigotry against the Roman Catholic Church, and I certainly do not wish to encourage anything of that kind. I have always made plain my opinion that spiritual and temporal power must not be confused. But in what I have written I have tried to include broad, general principles, and for that reason I have not specifically spoken for or against any particular bills.
I have no ill feeling toward any religion or toward any people of high or low estate because they belong to any religious group. I am sure the Cardinal has written in what to him seems a Christian and kindly manner, and I wish to do the same.