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Can I get an Amen?!

May 19, 2009 - John Stack

This is a time of the year when religious expressionism gets more play than other times of the year. Why? High school and college graduations. The big news has been about Obama giving the commencement speech at America’s titlular Catholic university, Notre Dame. Becgraduatiause of Obama’s pro-choice stance. At Notre Dame, dozens of protesters were arrested for trying to get into the ceremony (among them, Norma McCovey, the ‘Roe’ in Roe V Wade). Many students chose to skip their own graduation exercises in protest.  On the way back from Tennessee this weekend, I was listening to (of all things) right wing loonie talk show host rant on about Obama speaking at Notre Dame. Her ‘varied’ audience poll showed there that 70% thought Obama should have declined the invitation. I mean , yes, this is the woman who would want a full investigation into ‘a lying scandal’ if Joe Biden claimed ‘who smelt it, dealt it’. But the big point is, who is it that is trying to defend free speech and introduction of differences of thought? Weekly we read about protesters in Plattsburgh at the Planned Parenthood clinic claiming freedom of speech, and claiming the left wants to stifle them. But at the same time, they don’t want the leader of the free world to speak at their commencement, because he believes in something they don’t. 

There was a statement adopted by the US catholic bishops in 2004 for Catholic Universities not to award honorary degrees to those who didn’t adhere to  church teachings. How many people would this end up denying? Right off the bat this would exclude a number of pro-life senators, but who have broke other church teachings. And exactly what does ‘adhere to church teachings’ entail? Do any 2 Catholics even agree what teaching sit is that this means? The irony of this is that 55% of Catholics voted for Obama in the 2008 election! Not even the majority of the lay people have strong enough conviction that Obama’s stance on abortion was enough to not vote him as their leader.

                I was just down  LaVergne TN where my niece graduated high school. I attended her graduation ceremony. What many conservatives and evangelicals claim would have caused a heart attack in anyone to the left of Rush, many of the speakers spoke openly of God (yeah, the Christian God- not the supposed all encompassing God that is purported in ‘Under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance). And guess what? This New York Democrat wasn’t offended at all! It was kind of neat to hear the people around me shout out ‘You go girl!’ and ‘Hallelujah!’ when a valedictorian invoked Jesus Christ. One girl even ended her speech by ‘singing’ a prayer and asking people to join in. I think this is an appropriate instance where a student can thank those people or deities for helping them along their journey. (I hope these same people would be as accepting if a Muslim thanked Allah). As long as their speech isn’t hateful or disrespectful of other religions. Now, if a principal ordered everyone to ‘bow down to the one and only supreme leader Jesus Christ’ I would definitely find that completely unacceptable. It’s the official propogation of any religion, not the individual opinion of a speaker that is offensiv



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