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Notre Dame Honor for Obama Seen as Mistake

Poll Reveals Majority Disagrees With University

NEW YORK, MAY 7, 2009 (Zenit.org).- More than half of all Americans oppose the University of Notre Dame's decision to honor President Barack Obama with an honorary degree, according to a Rasmussen poll.

The telephone survey, released Tuesday, asked 1,000 adults if the university should be giving the president an honorary degree, given the 2004 guidelines established by U.S. bishops stating that Catholic institutions should not honor people whose actions conflict with the Church's moral principles. Fifty-two percent of those polled said no, and among Catholics, 60% said no.

The statement of the U.S. bishops says: "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

Only 25% of those polled agreed with the university's decision, and 19% said they were unsure.

When asked if it's important that commencement speakers for universities with a religious affiliation share the religious views of that university, nearly two-thirds (63%) said yes. Of Catholics, 56% said yes, while 87% of evangelicals answered in the affirmative, along with 63% of other Protestants.

While the majority disagrees with the university's decision to honor the president, only 30% of American adults believe the president should cancel his appearance at Notre Dame. Among Catholics, just 34% think Obama should cancel.

Of those polled, 15% say they are following the story "very closely," and another 23% are following it "somewhat closely."

Among Catholics, 25% are following the story "very closely," and another 27% are following it "somewhat closely."

© Innovative Media, Inc.

Reprinting ZENIT's articles requires written permission from the editor.

Related links:
Obama and Notre Dame, by John Allen Jr. for the National Catholic Reporter
Notre Dame’s quandary, by Sam Lucero for The Compass
Notre Dame, My Mother, by Mary Dodd for First Things: The Journal of Religion, Culture and Public Life

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