Notre Dame's Cold Slap of Progressive Reality

Betsy M. Galliher
One of the more disheartening moments mere months after the 2009 inauguration was the invitation extended President Obama to address commencement, and receive an honorary doctor of laws degree, at Indiana's revered and once resolute Catholic stalwart, the University of Notre Dame.  In an address interrupted with shouts of "abortion is murder" and "Yes We Can," Obama sang the tune of progressive civility, assuring all in the abortion debate that he would honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause.  But that was then, and this is now.  Not that then showed any real promise to anyone versed in progressive speak.

Following last week's attack on religious liberty, disguised as an accommodation, more than two dozen faculty members, including legal and ethics scholars, from Notre Dame and other colleges and universities, joined in a brilliant and stinging rebuke of Obama's contraceptive mandate and its supposed religious accommodation, calling it a  "grave violation of religious freedom." 

It's a pity Notre Dame -- a school whose very mission is "guided and elevated by the moral imperative of the Catholic faith" -- had to learn the hard way that progressive compromise, is in fact no compromise at all, forsaking millions of dollars in alumni giving and alienating students, alums, supporters, and faculty whose faith was and is uncompromising, even in the presence of a rock star President.  What Notre Dame really lost that commencement day was face, which takes a bit of the sting out of any stinging rebuke.  Call it a lesson in good faith, for the faithful and legal scholar alike.

It is simply startling to revisit Obama's words from that 2009 commencement address -- by now a tired repeat of his thesis, foreboding in its pessimism.  With such a dour view of human nature, is it any wonder Obama so militantly supports infanticide?

And part of the problem, of course, lies in the imperfections of man -- our selfishness, our pride, our stubbornness, our acquisitiveness, our insecurities, our egos; all the cruelties large and small that those of us in the Christian tradition understand to be rooted in original sin.  We too often seek advantage over others.  We cling to outworn prejudice and fear those who are unfamiliar.  Too many of us view life only through the lens of immediate self-interest and crass materialism; in which the world is necessarily a zero-sum game.  The strong too often dominate the weak, and too many of those with wealth and power find all manner of justification for their own privilege in the face of poverty and injustice. 

The rage of ND's Law and Ethics experts is anything but feigned.  But it remains an outrage tainted by their university's preening, naive outreach to Obama - a man whose devotion to abortion is second only to Margaret Sanger.  Considering the dire state in which this nation now finds itself, I told you so, seems of little consequence.  Should Obama prevail in November, such vindication will be of no consequence at all, for anyone of any conscious.   

In the end, even the Christian who believes it is inherent to his faith to reach his hand to the devil soon discovers his outreach is his alone.  It's not just the inch he gives; it's the mile he ultimately forsakes.

One of the more disheartening moments mere months after the 2009 inauguration was the invitation extended President Obama to address commencement, and receive an honorary doctor of laws degree, at Indiana's revered and once resolute Catholic stalwart, the University of Notre Dame.  In an address interrupted with shouts of "abortion is murder" and "Yes We Can," Obama sang the tune of progressive civility, assuring all in the abortion debate that he would honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause.  But that was then, and this is now.  Not that then showed any real promise to anyone versed in progressive speak.

Following last week's attack on religious liberty, disguised as an accommodation, more than two dozen faculty members, including legal and ethics scholars, from Notre Dame and other colleges and universities, joined in a brilliant and stinging rebuke of Obama's contraceptive mandate and its supposed religious accommodation, calling it a  "grave violation of religious freedom." 

It's a pity Notre Dame -- a school whose very mission is "guided and elevated by the moral imperative of the Catholic faith" -- had to learn the hard way that progressive compromise, is in fact no compromise at all, forsaking millions of dollars in alumni giving and alienating students, alums, supporters, and faculty whose faith was and is uncompromising, even in the presence of a rock star President.  What Notre Dame really lost that commencement day was face, which takes a bit of the sting out of any stinging rebuke.  Call it a lesson in good faith, for the faithful and legal scholar alike.

It is simply startling to revisit Obama's words from that 2009 commencement address -- by now a tired repeat of his thesis, foreboding in its pessimism.  With such a dour view of human nature, is it any wonder Obama so militantly supports infanticide?

And part of the problem, of course, lies in the imperfections of man -- our selfishness, our pride, our stubbornness, our acquisitiveness, our insecurities, our egos; all the cruelties large and small that those of us in the Christian tradition understand to be rooted in original sin.  We too often seek advantage over others.  We cling to outworn prejudice and fear those who are unfamiliar.  Too many of us view life only through the lens of immediate self-interest and crass materialism; in which the world is necessarily a zero-sum game.  The strong too often dominate the weak, and too many of those with wealth and power find all manner of justification for their own privilege in the face of poverty and injustice. 

The rage of ND's Law and Ethics experts is anything but feigned.  But it remains an outrage tainted by their university's preening, naive outreach to Obama - a man whose devotion to abortion is second only to Margaret Sanger.  Considering the dire state in which this nation now finds itself, I told you so, seems of little consequence.  Should Obama prevail in November, such vindication will be of no consequence at all, for anyone of any conscious.   

In the end, even the Christian who believes it is inherent to his faith to reach his hand to the devil soon discovers his outreach is his alone.  It's not just the inch he gives; it's the mile he ultimately forsakes.