Yet Another Reason I Voted for This Man

6 05 2009

President Obama’s view of the proper observance of the so-called “National Day of Prayer” in this secular democratic republic. . .

What an improvement over the constitutionally impermissible blurring between Church and State governance we’ve seen in recent years, from home education law to Terri Schiavo and marriage rights.

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52 responses

6 05 2009
Nance Confer

He seems to actually understand that whole “separation” thing. How nice. 🙂

Nance

6 05 2009
JJ

Remember this observance of Prayer Day at the state Capitol, and my concerns, Way Before Obama?

Homeschool Prayer to Guns, God, Government as Trinity:

[Never mind school and state] what will this teach kids about CHURCH and state, prayer and government?
And what will this teach lawmakers about homeschooling?

Is there really nothing wrong with this, not even a little off-sounding, to these conservative Christian homeschool parents? If it’s really a prayer day then it doesn’t belong in the middle of the secular government identified with legal “home education” and conversely if it’s a home education lobby, for the legislative presence and show of strength and solidarity, then it isn’t about prayer and religion; those are constitutionally separated for good reason. . .

6 05 2009
Crimson Wife

I’m disappointed but not surprised by Pres. Obama’s decision. Just like I was disappointed but not surprised to learn a few weeks ago that there will not be any NDOP event this year at San Francisco City Hall. I considered trekking up to Sacramento to the one at the state capitol, but it’s a bit far with a 4 month old and a 3 yr old in tow.

6 05 2009
lori

Why in the world would there ever be a national day of prayer observed at a government office? Honestly, Obama’s inauguration made me nuts with all the praying. It was way, way too religious of a ceremony for a secular government. How hard is it to keep religion separate from government events? Good gravy!

6 05 2009
Mrs. C

Yep, we were never a Christian nation (however short of the ideal). There’s just no evidence to support that. Most of the Founding Fathers were Buddhists and Muslims.

Annnyway… I will say I’m not surprised.

6 05 2009
JJ

Buddhists and Muslims?

Not if Google is my friend!

Religious Affiliation of the Founding Fathers:

Episcopalian/Anglican 88 54.7%
Presbyterian 30 18.6%
Congregationalist 27 16.8%
Quaker 7 4.3%
Dutch Reformed/German Reformed 6 3.7%
Lutheran 5 3.1%
Catholic 3 1.9%
Huguenot 3 1.9%
Unitarian 3 1.9%
Methodist 2 1.2%
Calvinist 1 0.6%
TOTAL 204

6 05 2009
JJ

Lori, I agree about the most recent inauguration. It was quite a bit too much for me, just so odd. I decided it was mainly an embrace of the current cultural meme of African-Americans perhaps, but the bottom line is, what do I know about that either? 😉

On a related note, at Favorite Daughter’s secular public college graduation Saturday night, there was an opening prayer we all obediently sat quiet for, but it went ON and ON and ON, until finally we started secretly giggling like, I can’t believe this! How much further will he dare go on, doesn’t he know how to make a polite pro forma prayer instead of giving a sermon at a public event?? It was bizarre . . .

6 05 2009
JJ

I guess it makes sense most of the founding fathers would have been raised themselves in families with “English” or at least British (including Presbyterian Scots and Irish Catholic?) faith traditions.

7 05 2009
Daryl Cobranchi

From the comments, the Sentence of the Day: Since this country was founded on Judeo-Christian/Anglo-Saxon basic rules and power structure distribution so that an equal balance of power was established without any one person would be in a higher power than the people themselves, I don’t think religion is a superstition, but a necessity, not necessarily in the individuals life,(although it is in mine), cause if you believe or don’t that’s your choice, I don’t think any less of you if you don’t believe, we just have a difference of an opinion, but a necessity in understanding what our Founding Fathers understood when coming up with the Constitution for this country, for “certain unalienable rights”, and being “endowed by our creator”, those lines aren’t just there for show they are there because our Founders understood what our country laws and rules needed to be based on to keep our country truly a free society, free from tyrannical rule or any individual’s ideals, but creating a manageable basis for government, by showing that if we hold ourselves to ruled by a higher authority we could not consider ourselves higher than each other but equal amongst all.

7 05 2009
Daryl Cobranchi

JJ-

I believe Mrs. C was being sarcastic with the Buddhist and Muslim comment. Treaty of Tripoli, folks. The Founders approved it. There’s no need to wonder if they meant for America to be a “Christian nation.”

7 05 2009
Mrs. C

LOL, yes, I was! Thankfully JJ just did all the legwork for me there…

Though it is important to note that the Founders did not intend for a national state religion.

7 05 2009
JJ

Mrs. C and Daryl, I’m confused.
Can’t tell whether you two agree with each other.

Much less with me. 🙂

Mrs. C, the Treaty of Tripoli establishes that America is NOT a Christian Nation. I can’t see how acknowledging the obvious western cultural origin of our forebears makes any suggestion to the contrary. (They were white males in ponytailed wigs and breeches too, with non-voting wives and slaves too — all arguably more entrenched in our founding history than political prayer.)

OTOH the founders also were liberally educated, thinking humans and their founding documents were (as Daryl underlines) clearly crafted to create the most humanist nation on earth.

Does everyone realize that the “National Day of Prayer” is no founding principle and hardly tradition? Congress gave birth to it about the same time my mother gave birth to me, and as a set holiday for presidents it’s brand-new bad law compared even to Roe v. Wade (1973 versus 1988) and has become a similar lightning rod for partisan overreach of constitutional activism.

It occurs to me that since 1996, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama all issued proclamations for my championship Gators and hosted public events to honor them at the White House. The founders loved education, revered university study and the federal government is increasingly involved in education policy. But if Gator Nation and/or universities generally, ever claim divine right of rulership over all citizens with the President as obedient handmaiden, I’ll oppose that too.

The Madison-based group of 12,000 atheists and agnostics filed the lawsuit near the end of Bush’s second term in U.S. District Court in Madison. The suit asks a judge to declare the law unconstitutional and to order presidents and governors to stop issuing prayer proclamations.

The lawsuit also claimed federal and state governments work too closely with Dobson’s task force to promote the day and give it a Christian bent. Among other things, the task force asks governors and mayors to issue prayer proclamations and suggests specific Bible verses and themes to quote in them.

The Obama administration asked U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb to dismiss the case in March. The administration argued the group has no legal standing to sue, said the tradition’s roots date to 1775 and that most presidents have invoked faith in a higher power.

It also said the day does not promote religion and argued that preventing presidents from issuing a proclamation would unfairly restrict how they communicate with Americans.

“It was very right-wing,” Gaylor said of the administration’s arguments. “One would expect that under a Reagan or a Bush, but I did not expect that under an Obama.”

She said the day disenfranchises the millions of Americans who do not believe in God or pray and suggested Obama implement a “national day of service” instead.

Thirty-one members of Congress, including House Minority Leader John Boehner, R- Ohio and Rep. Eric Cantor, R- Virginia, have filed a friend-of-the-court brief opposing the lawsuit. They call the prayer day “deeply embedded in the tradition and history of this country.”

To me political references to the divine and pro forma prayers in Congress etc were constitutionally protected through most of America’s history, because no one claimed the right to take over the secular government for God. Now that they have, it IS a problem.

7 05 2009
Crimson Wife

The Continental Congress declared the first day of prayer back in 1775. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson & Abraham Lincoln all declared national days of prayer. So it’s hardly a new thing…

7 05 2009
JJ

But we hadn’t been founded in 1775 yet! 😉
And things changed between the Declaration and the Constitution. If I haven’t been misinformed, there is a conspicious, intentional absence of “god” in the Constitution.

7 05 2009
JJ

See Religious Tolerance dot org:

Two different visions of religious America collide on the National Day of Prayer. One reflects a vision of America as solely a Christian country, and supports a politicized version of conservative evangelical Christianity. This religious America is founded on these Christian prayers, and seeks to strengthen the nation through emphasizing one version of its majority faith.

The other vision of America recognizes that our religious landscape contains far more than a single interpretation of Christianity, and that this diversity is in itself a strength. At these events, people are not asked to set aside their different faiths, but rather to draw on each one’s beliefs, bringing all the varied prayers for compassion, peace, and dreams of a better world together.

. . .The freedom of every group to gather and pray publicly must be upheld; to do otherwise is to deny the freedom of free exercise of religion in America. The organizers of a National Day of Prayer event are free to hold a ceremony that does not contradict their beliefs.

On one hand, such a ceremony might be a celebration of a single faith, and a single political outlook within that faith. On the other, celebrations of the National Day of Prayer could reflect both the America that exists
with multiple faiths and many opinions within each faith, and a hope for an America in the future: inclusive and accepting of different faiths, bringing many voices together in celebration and communion.

The first Thursday in May will continue to reflect these different visions as the tension between exclusivity and religious freedom is negotiated.

7 05 2009
Mrs. C

JJ, the entire book of Esther doesn’t mention God, either, and yet it’s part of the Bible…

I guess I interpret things like “Christian nation” to mean something different than you do. Maybe we should have defined our terms. What *I* mean is, that the Founders and most Americans at the time of the Revolution were Christians, and wanted the laws to reflect that heritage. Ideally, we are also TOLERANT of other religious people so long as they obey the laws. That’s the theory anyway. Not that you have to convert or die.

I’d have to be with Frederick Douglass though in his assessment of most Christians of his day… and yet he was a Christian as well as I am.

A better question to debate might be, “Are we a Christian nation NOW?”

I’m not sure about the answer. What do you think?

7 05 2009
Crimson Wife

The NDOP events I’ve attended have not been exclusively Evangelical Protestant. On the contrary, they seem to go out of their way to include speakers from a wide range of Judeo-Christian groups. Nor are all the speakers politically conservative. At the 2007 NDOP event in S.F. there was a female minister (IIRC she was an Episcopalian priest) who gave an anti-war message and there was also a speaker from a prison ministry who spoke about the need for better support of prisoners’ families and for ex-cons.

7 05 2009
JJ

Mrs. C, good for you, because I do usually prefer questions to answers. 🙂

I will ponder it, if you’ll do the same with this one. Today also is the National Day of Reason: “Are we a Reasonable Nation NOW?”

7 05 2009
JJ

If the Christian bible doesn’t mention the Bill of Rights or the government of the United States of America, and the Constitution doesn’t mention the Christian bible and god or praying for guidance in government, there’s a de facto case for separation right there! [wink]

7 05 2009
JJ

About Christians and tolerance in early American culture, I’m afraid that whole meme is debunked in Founding Faith by beliefnet dot org founder Steven Waldman.

It’s simply not true that Christianity ever was or is now tolerant (in public practice) of other Christians, much less of other religions or the not-religious. I don’t even see where tolerance of human difference is being taught as necessary and practical compromise, much less as “ideal.”

It is now common for those on the right and the left to try to prove that America is or isn’t a Christian nation based on the religious beliefs of the Founders. Waldman reminds us of the logical problems with this argument.

Just because one of the Founders was a Christian—or even an evangelical Christian—doesn’t mean that he was an opponent of the separation of church and state. The opposite is also true. Just because one of the Founders did not believe all the tenets of orthodox Christianity does not always mean that he rejected the idea that Christianity was good for the republic. This argument seems obvious, but it is often missing from the popular religious histories of the founding era.

Waldman offers some interesting historical nuggets that are definitely worth pondering. . .

If there was ever a book that might convince some readers—on both the left and the right– to rethink or tweak their views on religion and the founding, Founding Faith may be it.

7 05 2009
Mrs. C

My first reaction was that the National Day of Reason is kinda like the Day of Truth response to the Day of Silence. More of a reactionary thing than something original. Which gives more credence to the National Day of Prayer, really, because if it were so *nothing,* why would it need a response?

I’m quite certain that America was in fact, founded as a Christian nation. I don’t think you can separate things like “In God We Trust” from our money or pledge easily, etc. etc. BUT

That being said we can behave like practical atheists. I guess without being critical, I would have to just say that those of us who ARE Christians need to keep praying and whatever else God shows us to do. Not to just shrug our shoulders and hide.

Whoo… JJ… You’ve got me in the comments here and I can’t keep up and tend house at the same time. I will have to read the tolerance link later. :]

7 05 2009
JJ

I don’t think the National Day of Prayer was “nothing” at all — it was an overt attempt to take over government by the handmaidens of Christ. Or whatever. For James Dobson to be the archbishop over the king, claiming to speak for the King. Something like that.

And so THAT is why it has to be responded to. . .
For me the turning point, the wake-up and get active call, was Terri Schiavo, how the white male conservative Christian politicians sworn to uphold my constitution, drove my state governor to insane conspiratorial Catholic plotting to misuse his secular powers, and then my national leaders in special weekend seesion stood on the floor of my hallowed national government, and roundly trashed not just “reason” but all our explicit constitutional protections, including judicial check and balance of other branches, and family values and privacy besides, all in the name of their own assumed Christian dominion over heaven and earth.

7 05 2009
JJ

And In God We Trust on US money was hardly a founding principle either:
Fact sheet on In God We Trust currency

7 05 2009
Mrs. C

Yes, I knew about the currency b/c my husband is a coin collector… and the pledge… I just meant that things like that would be HARD to separate, not that it isn’t do-able if enough people feel as you do.

I still have to go read your link sometime, but wanted to run by and say you aren’t the only one who got mad about Terri Schiavo. I know some very conservative Christians who thought it impinged on the freedom of each family to live without court interference! And they were MAD!!

I could easily be the exact same way about it were it not for the billions of stories in the media about how the guy was probably a wife beater, had all these kids from shacking up with some chick, etc. You know.

I wouldn’t want to be starved to death as she was. Then again, I wouldn’t want to have the stomach tube put in unless it were absolutely temporary, good chance of recovery, etc. I’m no eugenicist, but I want to be able to live and move and stuff. I would trust my husband to make those decisions for me if I were unable to, absent that of course my eldest son would be capable.

I think now that the story has cooled down a bit… I am able to think with a clearer head about it… and come to the conclusion that there are so many twisted stories there and half-truths that I cannot know my own opinion because I don’t have all the info. :]

7 05 2009
Mrs. C

Finally! Got to it! I wish I knew all the other stuff he was linking to … you could about do a dissertation on some of that stuff by the time you’re done. :]

I think one of the difficulties of looking backward and trying to figure out the Founders’ intent is that the culture was SO very Christian and some things may or may NOT have been taken for granted. I don’t think that they all sat down and asked as their primary question, how are we going to make this nation a Christian nation only?

They were scrambling trying to get the nation to just plain old work, which meant acceptance of slavery. I think that we can get too far on both sides of the debate in that NO, America wasn’t the most perfect gleaming city on the hill, but YES, America was considered a Christian nation. I’m thinking of all kinds of laws that, even if the US were never formally declared official Jesusland (sigh), are based on some form of “Christian” interpretation of the Bible. Like, no sales of alcohol on Sundays in many areas, or prayer in schools, or whatever…

How much of that is “cultural” and how much is “Christian” I suppose is an important distinction. I’ve enjoyed a presentation by one of the Wallbuilders guys at church and wish I had bought some of their stuff.

7 05 2009
lori

All I need to do is read the Declaration of Independence to find out whether we are a Christian nation (or were founded as a Christian nation). Thomas Jefferson spent a lot of time writing that document. It matters that he didn’t mention that the Colonies were forming a Christian nation.

They weren’t.

The fact that most early Americans were Christian or at least Deists shows up in the culture and law books, of course. But the nation was never a Christian nation; it was a purposefully secular one that specifically espoused freedom of (and from) religion. Jesus gets no props in the Declaration or Constitution. How can you form a Christian nation without mentioning Christ?

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Nothing in there about “these Colonies are Christian states.” Thank god the founding fathers knew what they were doing!

If you want to go back as far as the Mayflower Pilgrims, you have to include the traders and explorers who were on the continent before them and all the other people after them who saw this place not as a place to start a new Christian nation, but as a place to become rich. We’re just one big business venture, and without venture capital, the Pilgrims would have never left Holland.

7 05 2009
JJ

Just to close the loop on the Schiavo story, I was then and remain plenty well-enough informed about my government representatives and their actions in the whole debacle, to know my opinions as a citizen about that! Nothing would justify that any more than torture can be justified.

I do agree several concurrent crimes and civil violations from conspiracy to slander and libel to death threats, appeared to spring up around this case and I know there were many families with loved ones dying in the same hospice whose pain was made MUCH worse by those crimes and torts and exploitations. (There was an elementary school down the street in Tampa too, that presumably was disrupted for many weeks.) I’ll never know everything about all of that — much less what we should have been paying attention to in the Bush administration instead! — but what I do know is enough to suggest that many private individuals had their rights trampled by the very folks sworn to protect them. It wasn’t about protecting our precious constitutional rights or our families or universal human values like telling the truth and doing unto others, quite the opposite.

7 05 2009
Nance Confer

A better question to debate might be, “Are we a Christian nation NOW?”

I’m not sure about the answer. What do you think?

**************

No, we are not.

Not legally. Not demographically. And certainly not based on the way we treat our fellow citizens.

Nance

7 05 2009
Kristina

Nance, not to disagree with you, but I haven’t seen any evidence that Christians haven’t always treated people the way we treat our fellow citizens. I’m not trying to degrade anyone’s religion. I’m just saying that I have never seen any evidence in history to support the idea that Christianity is a peaceful religion.

*********************************

As far as NDOP:
I don’t have a problem with it, so long as MY rights to not participate are not violated. I believe that so long as the president wants to participate, and does not expect everyone else to participate, he has every right to participate.

8 05 2009
Nance Confer

He can celebrate the NDOP in his free time. 🙂

Really, don’t use tax dollars and I’m fine with it. Otherwise, STFU about your personal religion as long as you are prez. Not what happens, just what I would like to see.

Start/continue treating our fellow citizens well and then explain how inspired you were by your personal religion when you write your memoirs. Fine.

That may be a boost to the the image of the whole religion. 🙂

Nance

8 05 2009
JJ

The line between public policy and private religion is WAY out of whack.

Local talk radio this morning in the car — it’s call-in your beef day, and a nice southern lady here in this capital city was complaining about the National Day of Prayer being “crammed” in one upper floor conference room “only big enough for 100 people” in the Capitol this year, and the Governor (a very popular Republican who apparently is capable of change, btw) did not speak (although she says she saw the lieutenant governor near the beginning.) So the official prayer day didn’t take over the whole building and plaza with on-the-job politicians conspicuously praying on-camera — during the critical end of session! — flanked by tanks and guns and helicopters and firetrucks and all their smartly uniformed public service personnel as in the past, and she was insulted because “schoolchildren couldn’t pray over the ‘first responders’ as they did for the last eight years!” How tacky (she meant this year was tacky in comparison, but I thought the past eight years were the picture next to “tacky” in the dictionary. Or worse, in the “O” section for obscene.)

Public ceremony with a personal stamp on it is an integral part of the modern presidency, not split out into a ceremonial personage and a separate government head as Britain does with the Queen and the PM, say. The trick seems to be knowing where the line is between them, when the same person is doing it all as part of one big job title.

We’ve blogged the White House Easter Egg Roll, how real policy signals are sent by how the same-sex parents are excluded or invited. (I blogged it for our state governor’s Easter event at his mansion too — these things are power of public story, I agree!) And I mentioned the Gators being rewarded with White House pomp; also President Obama had March Madness basketball brackets that got a lot of news coverage, he weighs in on the murky big-money BCS football title mess, and now some folks are pushing him to create a Cabinet-level sports-business position.

The baseball steroid scandal is big money and federal business too, in various ways from presidents throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to government regulations and hearings on criminal doping, etc . . .Manny being Manny all right! 😉

And what about food, from whether to prayerfully punish not eating the damn cracker on my public university campus to the newsworthy White House learning garden to presidential taste preferences making power of story even for the smallest unofficial detail (think of Bush 41 personally disliking broccoli and one of them declaring ketchup a vegetable for federal standards in schools, right up to this week when Hannity mocks Obama’s mustard preference on a deli sandwich!)

8 05 2009
dracowing

I just don’t think my government should be endorsing superstition, and prayer is superstition. What’s next, National Day of Throwing Salt Over Your Shoulder, or National Day of Wear the Same Shirt Every Time Your Favorite Team Plays, or National Day of Rabbit Feet? It’s absurd, and it has no place in a secular government.

8 05 2009
Crimson Wife

“But the nation was never a Christian nation; it was a purposefully secular one that specifically espoused freedom of (and from) religion.

No, the Founding Fathers never intended the U.S. to be a secular nation nor there to be “freedom from religion”. That idea did not come in to play until the middle part of the 20th century. It is clear from the debate over the wording of the First Amendment that the Founding Fathers intended the U.S. to be a religiously pluralistic nation. No promotion of any specific faith or denomination by the government as there was in most European nations at the time, but that is a very different thing than being secular.

8 05 2009
JJ

CW, that gets back to Mrs. C saying it depends on what we mean by “nation.” The constitutional wording was only establishing the federal government and not everything about this new nation’s culture and customs. Such things that the Constitution did not impose, including religion, were reserved to the People and left off-limits for the federal government. We weren’t institutionally allowed to orchestrate a school or districtwide day of prayer all the time I worked in public education — though kids and teachers could of course pray on their own — so why would the President and Commander in Chief be able to do it from the White House for the whole nation?

(And that’s why the official National Day of Prayer has drawn the lawsuit, I’ll bet.)

The Notre Dame protests (led by Alan Keyes) were on talk radio this afternoon and the idea was that the President of the United States should meet a religious litmus test before a Catholic university honored him AS president. It was pointed out that many Catholics are Democrats and the discussion took religion in politics a step further, saying that combination was impossible to do honorably because if you didn’t believe politically as conservatives did, then by definition you couldn’t be a good Catholic! Or a good Dem. Certainly not both at the same time.

The host sneered a challenge that anyone who knew someone both Catholic and Democrat in American politics should call in, because there weren’t any. I was sitting in line at the bank drive-through thinking this would be news to President Kennedy. . .

8 05 2009
Nance Confer

Since we’re in the 21st century, I’ll go out on a limb and say it is generally accepted that the First Amendment and the rest of our history covers “and from” now. At the very least, from government-sponsored or funded religion.

But since few pols can get elected without mouthing the right slogans signifying at least a token belief in some religion, we are saddled with this ridiculous posturing. At least Obama and the Republican FL Gov have the good grace to minimize the pomp and wasted time.

Nance

8 05 2009
COD

//National Day of Wear the Same Shirt Every Time Your Favorite Team Plays//

Are you implying this doesn’t work?

9 05 2009
NanceConfer

Which reminds me — JJ, you do know that Gator-worship is not a recognized religion. Right? 🙂

Nance

9 05 2009
JJ

Albert the Alligator is real! Despite how the pharisees hated him and colluded with the evil NCAA to try to kill him with their death penalty scholarship sanctions, he rose again to conquer all and fulfill all the teachings of the Gator Nation faith as revealed by Steve the Prophet and his blessed disciples Danny, Chris and Tim.

My sainted parents taught me well his truths, and I’ve been on Gator Worship pilgrimages since I was a little girl and besides, I’ve seen him with my own eyes!

9 05 2009
Crimson Wife

I don’t understand what Notre Dame was thinking in inviting President Obama in the first place as he is not a Catholic. It’s one thing to be debating whether Catholic universities ought to be honoring Catholic politicians who are in favor of legal abortion (I would personally say that it’s inappropriate). But somebody who’s not even Catholic? Why even open that can of worms?

9 05 2009
JJ Ross

Does the Pope only receive/visit Catholic heads of state btw? Just wondering, seriously — I’ve been thinking about John Kennedy this week and how him being Catholic was generally supposed to disqualify him from the presidency because being Catholic wasn’t compatible with the constitution for all of us, that he would be answering to the Vatican instead of the American people etc.

Now just a few decades and a sitting majority of SCOTUS later, have things changed so much that it turns out the Catholic Church didn’t just want to be full partners accepted in American diversity regardless of church dogma, but actually considers itself above and apart from the rest of us?

9 05 2009
JJ

I’m still sitting here trying to wrap my mind around this, CW. Can you help? I don’t think I know enough about Notre Dame’s special status perhaps. Are all its degrees scrupulously awarded only to Catholics and then only upon passing a religious fitness, loyalty to the church oath type exam that makes them swear they do not use contraception or support gay marriage or reproductive choice, etc?

This never occurred to me! We have a historically black university here in Tallahassee but there’s not any blood test much less a political correctness test before you can enroll or graduate and white students do receive its degrees both honorary and actual. Bill Clinton was its graduation speaker last Saturday and he’s pretty white . . . but he got the honorary doctorate of humane letters just the same.

9 05 2009
JJ

I just clicked on the Notre Dame admissions site and saw this:

2008 Freshman Class

* 9% Hispanic
* 7% Asian
* 3% African American
* 1% Native American

Wondering if even the Asian and Native American cohorts were 100% all-Catholic AND explicitly in line with all the doctrine and the official politics of the Church? (And what good is racial diversity in a student body if it really isn’t cultural diversity at all?)

9 05 2009
JJ

Well, I didn’t know this either! Did you??

Universal
As a Catholic University, Notre Dame seeks to contribute to scholarship and research while forming leaders who will use their knowledge for the greater good of humanity.

The word “Catholic” means “Universal.”

This definition provides the foundation for an institution that embraces diversity of belief and identity while celebrating Catholic faith across campus: in chapels and in classrooms, in intellectual discourse and in meditative prayer.

And here’s the answer to my earlier question:

Proportional
The large majority of undergraduate students at the University are Roman Catholic, although Catholic applicants receive no special consideration due to their religious beliefs. The University also maintains a significant proportion of Catholic faculty but recruits scholars of all backgrounds and affiliations in keeping with the University’s aim to pursue truth in the context of faith.

9 05 2009
JJ

If there ever were one “scholar” a university could honor who is “of all backgrounds and affiliations” not to mention “pursuing truth in the context of faith” — it’s Barack Obama! 😉

(He has more backgrounds and affiliations all by himself than most people in a whole family reunion. . .)

10 05 2009
Nance Confer

So when I go off to my great reward, will my children call me “sainted?”

Probably not. Maybe a few other things but not sainted. 🙂

JJ, is it verboten for Gatorians (Gatorists? Gatorics?) to eat gator? Gator on pasta for those in mixed marriages, perhaps? 🙂

Nance

10 05 2009
JJ Ross

ON the contrary, it is one of our fondest and most regularly enjoyed rituals, to “commune” symbolically with the flesh (and alcoholic blood) of the Mighty Fightin’ Gator!

We usually do it on the sports Sabbath (Saturday) of course —

11 05 2009
lori

Oh my goodness, I think I’m less grossed out by the cannibalistic Eucharist eating than I am by the gator eating. Ick!

I don’t understand what Notre Dame was thinking in inviting President Obama in the first place as he is not a Catholic. It’s one thing to be debating whether Catholic universities ought to be honoring Catholic politicians who are in favor of legal abortion (I would personally say that it’s inappropriate). But somebody who’s not even Catholic? Why even open that can of worms?

Maybe because they invite non-Catholics all the time? It’s not like Barack will be the first non-Catholic, the first president, or the first non-Catholic president to speak there.

President Bush spoke there during his first administration. He’s anti-abortion, of course, but also pro death penalty. I don’t recall any uproar over how inappropriate it was to invite him to speak, even though he isn’t Catholic and actually signed many a death warrant in the state of Texas.

11 05 2009
JJ

While we’re talking cannibalistic religious ritual gross-out . . .
😉

11 05 2009
JJ

. . .and speaking of Native Americans (as in the presumably not-Catholic-raised percentage who are Notre Dame students) I was just informed by an opera-singing homeschool dad of my long acquaintance, that the good old USA had a law on our books BANNING performance of Native American music (so that their children would not learn it and take it as their own?) — and it carried forward into the 1900s, finally reversed either in 1934 or by President Nixon depending on the source — I haven’t researched it myself yet.

I find this, if true but largely unknown and unremarked upon, pretty hard to um, swallow? (sticking with with our theme du jour) and very hard to reconcile with the rampant hypersensitivity and aggressive claims to be the only real yet repeatedly wronged Americans, of everyone else’s identity politics.

11 05 2009
JJ

Here’s what he wrote me, if you want to look it up yourselves:

Re: [Parent-DirectedEducation] Quincy Jones: Arts Education in America

“America’s indigenous music, properly speaking, is the music of the Native American, which was banned in public performance until Nixon pushed through the self-determination act in 1975, and this is largely unknown. ”

This is based on a conversation with an American Indian flautist, and this and this
but I also see this, which takes the lifting of the ban back to 1934!

From the last link:

“. . .During the colonization of indigenous North America, Christian missionaries, government agents, and Western educational systems tried to suppress American Indian practices, notably performances of music and dancing. For colonizers, the dancing Indian body signified the antithesis of all things “civilized.”

Indigenous ceremonies were viewed as time-consuming pagan practices that ran counter to the Christian work ethic and undermined the “civilizing” goals of assimilation. Native dancing intertwined with spiritual practices became a punishable offence, subject to a series of prohibitions by the late nineteenth-century federal government.

Many Native American communities hid their ceremonies, holding their dances in conjunction with Anglo celebrations such as the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. . .”

18 05 2009
JJ
18 05 2009
JJ

And it looks like I’d win that bet:

“WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Monday it no longer includes a Bible quote [with pictures of US soldiers as holy crusaders] on the cover page of daily intelligence briefings it sends to the White House. . .
Air Force Maj. Gen. Glen Shaffer, who was responsible for including them, retired in August 2003, according to his biography.”

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