May 16th, 2009
03:15 PM ET
5 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. Tulsa L

    Go ahead and stay home, who cares, your all lying, it isn't because of his views on anything, its because he is black and you don't like him and you didn't vote for him and your all sore losers.........most staying away from this event will be catholic women who have had the majority of the abortions in this country anyway

    May 16, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  2. Donna

    the catholic church needs to examing themself molesting young boys and girls these victims there life will never be the same thanks to the catholic church who am i to judge anyone who believe in pro-choice we all have to answer for our own sin.

    May 16, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  3. Chris Smith

    The Catholic Church is against the death penalty and pro-life. Name one big time politician who shares these values. Would the same outcry be made of a pro-life politician who supports the death penalty? I don't think so.

    This is merely an attention grab from the pro-life lobby. And these students are being snowed into thinking they're doing something honorable.

    May 16, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  4. Paul

    I have a suggestion for Emily, and anyone else who is pro-life. If you do not like the laws of the US, why don’t you move to a country that supports your views on this? You have some lovely choices: Colombia, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Angola, Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda, Iran, Mexico, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, to name a few. You would be very happy to be living in a country where abortion is illegal, and most Americans would be happy to have you gone. Everyone wins!

    May 16, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  5. Ramrod

    Stay away....I doubt anyone really cares if you do.

    May 16, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  6. Ohnoes

    I love how she used the word "educate" when it comes to abortion since the population all must be educated on why they are sinners for not believing what she believes.

    I'm also not sure what handing him a degree has to do with endorsing abortion? In her perfect little world I'm sure she does no wrong and she will ride on a unicorn to heaven when the time comes.

    May 16, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  7. sandy

    Maybe after there done protesting him, they can go up and down the steets to many Catholic houses and ask if the woman of the house uses birth control. They all do, and they are all surposed to be such good Catholics. Give me a break

    May 16, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  8. Ted

    Go ahead and protest. Eventually someday you will come to the realization that you were wrong.

    May 16, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  9. Ron

    Poor fool. Go to your graduation and have fun. Why didn't you leave ND when you found out that priests were molesting little boys? Seems to me ND is producing a few confused, young people.

    May 16, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  10. korifrazier

    It seems like one thing people are forgetting here is that Obama has only been President for barely six months. If there's a reason to not give him an honorary degree, that's it, not his disagreement with Catholic doctrine. Let him make his impact on history first – that is, an impact that has nothing to do with being the first black President.

    May 16, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  11. Ken

    Gosh, I am amazed how all these people are so ignorant. As if Obama is the one forcing women to get pregnant and abort their children. Instead of focusing so much attention on skipping her commencement (which will do nothing), she should focus resources on preventing unwanted pregnancies instead.

    May 16, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  12. Palermo

    As long as this group is insisting on applying 4th century logic to present day, they should also file objections to any students being awarded degrees who do not believe what they believe. I defintiely think if this young lady believes this strongly, she should stay home for graduation...in fact, she should refuse the diploma and degree...that'll really teach that university to do what she says! In a diverse world, people of intelligence can agree to disagree.

    May 16, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  13. mk

    But she feels totally comfortable with the way the catholic church has handled its pedophile priest population. Did she boycott church when that happend?

    May 16, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  14. jim

    Why does this not surprise me. often, republicans were given honors, yet I don't recall hearing about this blatant kind of outrage from liberals.

    another example of the far right's "my way or the highway" stand.

    it's uncompromising stances like this that will keep far right politicians out of office.

    May 16, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  15. Susan

    Following Rush Limbaugh's analysis style:
    Her decision is only because of Obama's race.

    May 16, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  16. George Rush

    Emily Toates and people like this object to giving a degree to a black man. How come they are all of the sudden so antiabortion? The only reasonable explanation is the personal hatred of the president. And since the president is not anti-catholic must be those Notre Dame are after black. France is a Catholic country that allows abortion and the Pope doesn't have a problem with them. Barack Obama has never performed an abortion, he did not decide Roe versus Wade, he is not responsible for abortion being legal in the United States. His political position is shared by most of American citizens and many Catholics in this country. Only thing that separates him from other politicians and presidents is the color of his skin. And I believe that's where most of the opposition is coming from.

    May 16, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  17. dky

    These are the very same people who did not protest priest raping little boys.

    May 16, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  18. rainbowgirl

    Giving the President an honorary degree is NOT "honoring his policies." Stupid, naive girl....she will regret not attending her graduation when she matures a little.

    May 16, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  19. Ted Tartaglia

    This student is hurting only herself by boycotting the Notre Dame graduation. The article doesn't say whether or not she is graduating senior. If she is, I would remind her that you only graduate once and you will probably regret missing your graduation in the future. People need to learn a little tolerance. Just because someone disagrees with you is no reason to condemn that person. Perhaps a careful reading of the Bible will convince her that her actions would not be condoned by Jesus.

    May 16, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  20. The Marginalizer

    If you are so anti-American as to not show some respect for our President......do us all a favor and expatriate and move to Iran or Saudi Arabia immediately moron. Both her and her fiancee are a disgrace to our nation.

    May 16, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  21. Expat American

    Maybe students like Toates and others can boycott receiving their diplomas as well...oh wait...that would mean that they're actually willing to sacrifice something beyond their weak attempt at recognition....just like Republicans who say that President Obama is not their President, but who have yet to revoke their passports and find themselves another country to live in.....oh wait....the most vocal opposition supporters who were against President Obama don't even have a passport, because they've never been anywhere!

    May 16, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  22. Jeb

    This girl is a classic example of an obtuse right winger, limbaugh disciple, and non-Christian who's so enshrined on her bigotted beliefs that she even forgets the premise that our Lord Jesus stands for. Notre Dame should have a priest talk to her.

    May 16, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  23. Dave

    How sad. A day which one should be proud of, she justs throws away. This is typical christian/catholic intolerance that is turning the youth of today away from the church. Instead of welcoming Our President with open arms and using the opportunity to bring the abortion debate to a reasonable discussion, they turn it into a shrill event. Catholic people need to understand that most people in this country arent catholic and dont subscribe to their beliefs. Why do they continue to try to push their set of beliefs on everyone else?

    May 16, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  24. Nola

    Ms. Chetry – You will someday regret this decision – after more than 40+ years I returned to college and I found my graduation ceremony to be such a high – an event that I will forever remember. Yes you have your opinion on the subject and so do others (millions) – but we each learn to appreaciate the others ideal and stand on a number of subject matters.

    May 16, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  25. Badboy

    Obama, is a tool of Satan. I'm not sure if he is ignorant of this fact, or if he a willing participant. A lesser demon, perhaps. I'm not sure if he is really evil and working with Satan or if he is really that ignorant.

    May 16, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
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