The Obama-Notre Dame Controversy Is Just Hysteria of a Catholic Right-Wing Fringe

Most U.S. Catholics won't care about a liberal giving the Notre Dame commencement.

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New Gallup poll data show the controversy over President Obama's commencement speech at Notre Dame University may be much ado about nothing. Except for fringe church radicals, that is.

The stance of the Catholic church on moral issues has come into the spotlight in recent days with the announcement that President Barack Obama will be giving the commencement address and receiving an honorary degree at the University of Notre Dame in May. ... The argument of those who protest the extension of the invitation to Obama is that Catholics have a distinctly conservative position on these moral issues. That is certainly the case as far as official church doctrine is concerned, but not when it comes to average American Catholics. The new Gallup analysis, based on aggregated data from Gallup's 2006-2008 Values and Beliefs surveys, indicates that Catholics in the United States today are actually more liberal than the non-Catholic population on a number of moral issues, and on others, Catholics have generally the same attitudes. ... Catholics are at least slightly more liberal than non-Catholics on the issues of gambling (an issue to which the Catholic church is not totally opposed), sex between an unmarried man and woman, homosexual relations, and having a baby out of wedlock. Catholics are essentially tied with non-Catholics on the moral acceptability of abortion, divorce, and stem-cell research using human embryos. Only on the death penalty are Catholics slightly less likely than non-Catholics to find the issue morally acceptable.

Well, so much for Randall Terry and his ilk, caterwauling ad nauseam about Mr. Obama stepping foot on the Notre Dame campus. They can all pack up and go home now. But that might put a dent in fundraising activities for the church's right fringe. And that would be a real shame, wouldn't it?

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