Garry Wills cuts to the chase:
Kennedy had to convince people that he would not let the Vatican push him around. Romney has let evangelicals know that he would let them push him around.
One other point worth remembering:
Kennedy said he would follow his own conscience, not allowing any church interferences with what his conscience dictated: "I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair."
This position is now derided by conservatives like Jonah Goldberg as the "divinization of conscience." It is the direct opposite of today's theoconservative argument that all religious faith is public, and if it isn't followed through in public, it is inherently suspect. Wills again:
Kennedy was on the side of the future. He defied the Vatican's ban on American-style democracy, which was rescinded in the Second Vatican Council, convened after his election. Romneylooking to the past, and specifically to the current Bush administration's positionkowtowed to the religious right. Saying that he opposes religious tests, he passed that one.
Don't be fooled. Romney is the continuation of theocratic politics and an unchecked executive. He is Christianism's avatar.