The faithful are increasingly likely to face hostility to their beliefs in secular educational settings, the Catholic League’s 2007 Report on Anti-Catholicism shows:
• On February 21, 2007, “A substitute teacher wiped the Ash Wednesday ashes off the forehead of a student at White County High School,” the League reports. “When the girl and her classmates protested, they were berated by teachers.”
• On April 19 in Lake Bluff, Illinois, “A middle school teacher gave an assignment to her students pinpointing who was responsible for the Holocaust and listed Pope Pius XII along with Himmler and Goebels.” When the Catholic League “sent the teacher a copy of the league’s reader on Pius XII as well as Rabbi David Dalin’s The Myth of Hitler’s Pope” the League “received a grateful reply from the teacher, who said she’d had no idea that Pius XII played an important role in undermining Hitler and rescuing Jews.”
• On June 25, in Columbus, Ohio, “A federal judge ruled that employees whose religious beliefs conflict with the political positions of their labor unions cannot be forced to pay union dues. The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit by a Catholic schoolteacher, who refused to pay National Education Association dues because of the union’s pro-abortion stance. The teacher sued Ohio’s State Employment Relations Board after the board ruled that only members of religions with historically held objections to union membership, such as Seventh-Day Adventists and Menonites, could be exempt from union dues. Federal Judge Gregory Frost ruled that the board’s regulation was discriminatory, in that it allowed members of some religions to opt out of union membership while denying that choice to followers of other faiths.”
The situation does not get much better in the supposedly more enlightened world of higher education. “Here is a painfully awkward observation: All five justices in the majority in Gonzalez are Catholic,” University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone wrote of the U. S. Supreme Court’s landmark partial-birth abortion decision. “The four justices who are either Protestant or Jewish all voted in accord with settled precedent.”
“It is mortifying to have to point this out,” Stone averred. “But it is too obvious, and too telling, to ignore.” Stone is of a piece with other professors who UChi has gravitated towards in the wake of Milton Friedman’s retirement 30 years ago.
“Two religious student groups, one of them Catholic, won religious-discrimination lawsuits against the University of Wisconsin,” last May, the League states. “The Roman Catholic Foundation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was awarded $250,000 in student fees after a U. S. District Court judge ruled that the school had violated the group’s freedom of association rights; membership in the group is limited to Catholics.”
That should be self-evident to anybody but a university administrator.
In the old days, “Don’t make a federal case out of it!” was an exasperated plea that meant a matter was no big deal. In this age, such a recourse is about the only way that Catholics, or other people of faith, in the current circumlocution, can actually exercise their religious freedom in a country that was founded with that very liberty in mind.
With university officials, appeals to reason just won’t cut the mustard, despite the manner in which such worthies advertise themselves as eminently reasonable. The Catholic League discovered as much when they objected to a student newspaper column that graphically alleged that Catholic girls emulate Monica Lewinsky rather than engage in the premarital relations that the Mother Church proscribes.
“We contacted Ohio State president Dr. Karen Holbrook, hoping that she would treat the matter with the same severity with which she addressed past racist comments on campus,” the League report reads. Admitting that “the column was ‘offensive’” she nonetheless claimed that it represented “the view of one student and in my opinion is not characteristic of the overall feelings and actions of Ohio State’s student body.”
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.