Catholic Universities:  Temples of Intolerance?


In the United States we have had relative peace on religious matters because there is an understanding that matters that affect the family and friends of people of different faiths are only the business of individuals and their religious faiths.  What Jewish people believe or do, assuming it's not illegal behavior, is their business.  It is not the business of non-Jews to try to tell them how to believe or act in their homes and with their friends.   

This tolerance has been a wonderful thing for the Untied States.  We have so many other problems that divide us, race being the primary division.  It would not be healthy to start an atmosphere of religious intolerance in the country. 

So now we are presented with some members, including many bishops, of the Catholic faith insisting that Notre Dame not invite the President of the United States to their university.  The reason behind their stance is that Obama approves of the right to abortion.  To tell the truth, I found this whole thing very insulting.  If the President of the United States of America can't speak to Catholics, then I guess I couldn't either.  That is simply ridiculous.  It really would mean that everyone would have to be put to a test on their beliefs about the subject of abortion.  Those not believing with the Catholics that abortion is a mortal sin, literally millions of Americans, including millions of Catholics themselves, could not speak at Catholics institutions.  

The question is about tolerance and the absolute need for it.  Abortion is not the issue, intolerance is.  You can believe whatever you want to about abortion:  oppose it or support it.  But it is just wrong to set up a religiously-backed political test of whether or not a person can speak at Catholic institutions based on their personal or religious beliefs about different issues.  This kind of attitude breeds hate.  It gives comfort and support to people who believe in intolerance.  It helps lead to the murder of abortion doctors.  And through murder and intimidation legally permitted actions can be prevented because of the fear of death or being maimed.

If we follow the example of the minority of the intolerant members of the Catholic faith, it could be the start of something very nasty indeed.  What if other faiths started creating political/religious tests of who can speak or who cannot speak?  Speaking of which, intolerant political/religious tests violate the spirit of freedom of speech.  Shouldn't universities and other institutions be able to hear ideas from those people who have different political or religious beliefs? 

Because of the reasoning of the intolerants at Notre Dame and elsewhere, the evangelical Liberty University decided that intolerance is a hell of a good idea and decided to forbid certain classes of speakers because of their religious/political beliefs.   Please!  Don't start with this religious bigotry crap!  It will only divided us further and make some individuals' lives much worse.  Be tolerant!  If you don't like abortion, then politically work to change the law.  Don't start discriminating against others of different beliefs. 


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

June 11, 2009


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