My limited reading of history tells me that the "separation of church and state" is meant to refer to using state power (i.e. laws) to influence/favor particular religious beliefs ["Obama's Notre Dame Speech Was an Alarming Violation of Church-State Separation," usnews.com]. Did President Obama pass some new law during his speech? Did he use the coercive force of the executive branch? Did I miss something or is the author of this article implying that to simply speak about religion is a violation? If this is his definition of violating church/state, then it is one that the Bush administration broke many times. Didn't President Bush say that it was our moral/religious duty to help the less fortunate in Africa? I guess that was a violation of church/state?
Comment by C. Roberts of CA
As a pro-life Catholic conservative, I found Mr. Obama's speech to be tolerable, for the most part I would definitely have gone, if given the opportunity or if he were my commencement speaker. I just wouldn't clap when he said something overtly political that I disagreed with. I'm fine with his message of "seeking common ground" but am anxiously waiting for him to allow for freedom of conscience protections on the abortion issue, to shift the conversation toward discouraging and regulating abortion, and being a better "seeker of common ground" on budgetary and economic issues. So far, he hasn't done so well.
Comment by Joe C. of VA
Like the president, I do hope the area of common ground regarding abortion can be expanded. As he acknowledged, not all differences can be bridged, but because most Americans adhere to a moderate stance on abortion—that it is never desirable but sometimes acceptable—this commonality would allow all of us to work together to reduce the demand for abortions, as well as to pursue many other goals that would provide a better life for our society. I support him in that endeavor. Intriguingly, the Vatican also appears to be supportive, having issued a moderately favorable description of the president's remarks, with an emphasis on the theme of common ground.
Comment by Fred Mooltlen of PA
As a Catholic, I can definitely tell you that a lot of what President Obama said was congruent with Catholic beliefs: on the environment, battling poverty, and acceptance of diversity. Those are Catholic values. Aside from the issue concerning abortion and stem cell research, the president's values and the values of the Church are far more aligned than they were under President Bush. In terms of violating the separation of church and state, I would caution you against making those statements. The GOP is the biggest advocate of tearing down that wall. The president's speech is hardly a violation of that basic American principle. Instead, it is an invitation for healthy dialogue.
Comment by Jose Rodriguez of CA
President Obama did exactly as he said he would—he created and encouraged dialogue with others who do not share his opinions How refreshing! He did not seem ill at ease physically being at Notre Dame nor in his message. Colleges are places for exchange of ideas and views that are contrary to that of others so it is natural and right he spoke at Notre Dame. Please view these times as different, and the actions of the last eight years are being replaced by those that we can, and should embrace even if we are unable to embrace the message. Keep a relatively open mind, it shouldn't hurt. I have no idea if President Obama's policies and/or views will work but, I give him huge props for trying.
Comment by David Nichols of CA