May 16th, 2009
03:15 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama's Notre Dame speech backlash

(CNN) – University of Notre Dame senior Emily Toates, like many in the Catholic faith, is angry over her school's decision to give President Obama an honorary degree at this weekend's commencement.

She's doing something about it: skipping the event.

"I do not feel comfortable going and celebrating him as the university hands him an honorary degree - in a sense honoring his policies," Toates said.

On Sunday, Obama will become one of many sitting U.S. presidents to deliver the commencement address at the Catholic institution. The honor comes much to the chagrin of anti-abortion groups and Catholics protesting the president's pro-choice, pro-stem cell research views.

ND Response, an anti-abortion student group that Toates is working with, will boycott the graduation ceremony in protest. Other anti-abortion groups have started petitions against Obama's appearance and have plans to protest his visit to the South Bend, Indiana, campus.

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Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. Karen - Missouri

    So let her skip. Maybe she should enlist in the Army and go to Afghanistan and watch her fellow Americans and others get killed after Bush ignored Afghanistan and Pakistan so many years. Obviously, she has no loyalty to Notre Dame

    May 16, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  2. D Rooney

    Once again it's time for all of these so called "well educated" kids to grow up. They have a right to disagree with the presidents policies but they are taking an educational ceremony and turning it into a religoius free for all. What they fail to see is that if they took the education they got, they could change things they don't like, just like the president has...by using his education not by being spoiled brats and holding their breath til everybody gives into their child like behavoiur.

    May 16, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  3. Doug in New Mexico

    There is something just a little bit ignorant about so many with their stance on abortion. I do not believe in abortion but I have also witnessed the results of children not being wanted. These children grow up to be in prisons, mental institutions, detention centers. They kill, rob, rape and do various assorted crimes. And even worse they often commit suicide. It is one thing to be anti abortion, but then how about taking care of these children who are not wanted. It is all so much suffering. Getting out and protesting is ignorant. The protesters are not helping with the suffering in the world and are actually sometimes creating more. Many of the anti abortionist that I have met were generally innocent of the ways of the world. They have beliefs and concepts that are not real and do not understand the consequences of what they preach. Lord forgive them for when you cause suffering it has a tendency come back and haunt you at some time in your life. These protesters need to find compassion for all of gods children and work from there.

    May 16, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  4. rightsaid

    Life begins at its origin, a few billion years ago. Eggs and sperm are alive, and the chain hasn't been broken for billions of years.

    A fetus is no more a child, than a child is an adult. Different stages.

    May 16, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  5. Craig

    Ah yes, because Catholics are SOOO very consistent. Just google Pat Robertson and Lawrence O'Donnell to see.

    May 16, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  6. Shawn - Ga

    The church that was started by Jesus Christ himself deserves better than what has been said in these forums. People with no real knowledge are commenting on things like "they worship saints, and Mary" if you think this than you know nothing of the Catholic faith. Please unbder stand what you are talking about, that is only fair. Also if you learned about Catholics you would understand why there is more Catholics in the world than ALL of the "spin offs" combined (baptist, lutherin,...etc)

    As for this topic in its self, there is a reason for the firt time in 15 years more people are Prolife than are pro choice.

    I could go on for hours trying to teach the ignorant as we are instructed to do by Jesus, however this is not the place. Please just know what you are refering to before you type...

    We are not ment to pick and choose what we believe, Jesus said the world would be against his deciples... have the strength to stand for Jesus and not bend to this world.

    May 16, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  7. Time after time

    I like the student for her willingness to take a stand and then follow through on her convictions. Her poor grammar and diction (as well as inability to articulate ideas persuasively), however, reflect poorly on her education. My guess is that either she did not do very well at Notre Dame or Notre Dame did not do very well by her. Best of luck and let's hope that her life is as smooth sailing as she needs it to be to feel justified in turning her back on this "dialog".

    May 16, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  8. Dan, TX

    Just guarantee food, shelter, education and opportunity to every child born in the US and there will be no more abortion. It's just money. With enough money can solve the abortion issue. Surely if Catholics donated 50% of their incomes to this cause it could be solved.

    May 16, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  9. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    Her choice.

    Amazing how that works.

    The hypocrisy of some Catholics is also quite amazing.

    May 16, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  10. tom

    this event was what really sealed my decision not to attend Notre Dame even though I was admitted.

    May 16, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  11. Audrey

    Protest all you want but do not bring any harm to President Obama. You
    people are crazy and have been known to bring death and destruction to
    those who oppose you. I do not know who is worst, the terrorists or the
    anti-abortion protesters. Please keep it peaceful!!!!

    May 16, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  12. Steve

    Gosh, religion is swell.

    May 16, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  13. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    as long as this school gets government funding of any kind then this young grad. should hold her tongue and respect the man that is our comander and chief . and if she has sutch an issue with him then maybe higher education has not taught her very much. so boo hoo some place else their are many young and old that would have loved to had the ability to go to such an exspensive school to gane an education .., so get over it and be proud that this president doesn't back out and not give a speech or get an honorary degree

    and she needs to go back in history and view all the articles on back alley abortions that women had before ROE V WADE
    it isn't about killing a baby its about protecting a womans right to choose .. also this young grad needs to look back and research when women couldn't view or say whats on their mind .. wasn't to long ago ..

    so go to your graduation and be proud that you are graduating and that the president of this country is going to be there.

    if most of the students don't want him then he should not do it . it would show how small minded the students are . I would not hire any of them to work for me .

    can't think outside the box

    May 16, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  14. Flagship, NC

    I hope that the University of Notre Dame senior Emily Toates, remembers to investigate EVERY future potential EMPLOYER so she will not make the mistake of working for a company that has a pro-choice president or top staff. And make sure that the man that she marries has no family members that are pro-choice either.
    Other wise she would prove she self to be Hyprocrital and Contridicting to her values.
    I would hope that some one follows her future progress and verifies this as she progresses through life.
    She may be graduating....but she is in no way ready for the real world.

    May 16, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  15. Sean

    "I do not feel comfortable going and celebrating him as the university hands him an honorary degree..." They don't get it! He's celebrating them! They're the ones that are graduating! He is there to honor them, and it is a great honor to have the sitting president speak at your graduation ceremony. But we have to turn it into a political and/or religious argument, don't we?

    May 16, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  16. Heather in Seattle

    Well if they don't like it, they certainly do not have to go see Barack Obama speak do they. Personally I would feel honored if the President came and visited my school.

    May 16, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  17. alvino

    Note to Obama:

    You are always welcome to visit a Lutheran College. After all, we are the true catholics.

    May 16, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  18. John H

    It is a wonder that any Catholic school can even draw students to its campus, let alone a President. What a history of murdering children, women, Jews and then pretending to be the all-knowing, all-righteous religion.
    If I were Obama I would never seek an invitation from such a tragic religious school.

    May 16, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  19. Cain

    Well, since she is not speaking and will not be sharing the stage with him who cares. The Val. welcome him and she also stated that he is practicing Catholic values which I agree to as well.

    Congras to you and enjoy your day of celebration at home. I will go – in your place did you get rid of your tickets?

    May 16, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  20. js007

    These simpletons have been trying to ban abortion for decades by voting for politicians whose "trickle down" economic policies of favoring the wealthy cause more abortions due to a lack of health care and basic conditions for raising a child. Most women who get abortions do it because they do not want to be sentenced to a life of poverty by either having to quit school or being saddled with a child when they are merely teenagers.

    Obama is actually trying to improve the education and economic conditions for poor women, which would reduce the ROOT CAUSES of abortion.

    Lastly, I don't remember these "pro-life" hypocrites protesting Bush, whose war-mongering caused at least 100,000 unnecessary civilian deaths in Iraq, thousands of dead or maimed US soldiers, and who put over 100 people to death while governor of Texas. I guess life only matters before birth?

    May 16, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  21. alvino

    So much for the expensive education you get at Notre Dame. It looks like a lot of people skipped the religion class on tolerance as a message of Jesus.

    May 16, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  22. Cfoster

    I don't understand the problem because Obama is the President of the United States. The Catholic church does not support the war but no one would complain about George Bush if it were him. I think this is politically motivated and the GOP is behind the issue with his visit. Beside the point abortion is a personal choice and Obama is not having an abortion of forcing anyone to get one. I don't understan the complaint over stem cell because if stem cell research was used to find a cure for cancer the people against it would be the fisrt in line for help..

    May 16, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  23. tracey

    Relax people, it is really not that serious! Enjoy your life, celebrate your educational achievement and keep it moving, because the earth will continue to move around. Don't miss a once in a life time opportunity of truly enjoying your accomplishments. President Obama has that much power over you? To cause you to miss your graduation? If so, I think you should be in a mental hospital getting treatment because something is seriously wrong with you! I give absolutely no one that much power over me, that would interfere with me celebrating graduation.

    May 16, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  24. Simmy

    WWJD? He would attend the ceremony......He was a friend to publican and sinners......He loves and accepts everyone.....He palled around with Paul, a former murderer, Peter, a foul mouthed fisherman, Judas, the one who betrayed Him....Where did these holier than God people come from? Alan Keyes looks like a stone cold fool.......His ignorance is raging.......These people are not on the way to the heaven with the big 'G' God.....They are on their way to little 'g' heaven......One Issue Wonders....Peace.....

    May 16, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  25. Mary

    Well he doesn't appeal to all – and that's how it works. Did she hear what the valedictorian Brennan Bollman said – she welcomes our Prez.

    Thanks Prez – You are an excellent POTUS – Love seeing u at the soccer game with the girls today!

    May 16, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
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