January 21 – September 21
Nashville, TN – On January 21, Vanderbilt University administrators announced the new “nondiscrimination” policy that stipulated that religious student groups could no longer require their leaders to agree with the respective group’s religious beliefs. Furthermore, religious student groups could also no longer expect their leaders to lead prayer, worship, or Bible studies. Finally, leaders of religious student groups could no longer be asked to resign in the event that their religious beliefs change while in office.
In response, 13 Christian groups joined forces to resist the administration. A University Chair and Professor of Law at St. Thomas University in Minnesota wrote that the school was “despising Christianity” with a policy to “expel the expression of views of which it disapproves.”
On October 24, 2011, the Catholic Chaplain for Vanderbilt Catholic wrote a letter to Vanderbilt’s chancellor about the burden being placed on the group.
On March 26, Vanderbilt Catholic announced that it would leave campus before before complying with the policy and allowing members of other groups to occupy its leadership. It eventually changed its name to University Catholic. Since the group decided not to register as an official organization, it was prohibited form using the name “Vanderbilt.”
On May 2, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam vetoed a Tennessee House bill aimed at rescinding the policy. Haslam said that, although he disagreed with Vanderbilt’s policy, he found it inappropriate for government to regulate a private institution.
According to Vanderbilt’s website, as of September 21, more than 480 student groups had complied with the policy and had been confered registered student organization status. Of this number, 29 were religious student groups. About 15 religious student groups had said they disagree with the policy. They chose not to comply.
Newark, NJ – Thomas Nast, the 19th-century artist who consistently inflamed hatred against the Irish and Catholics alike, was nominated to the New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHF) in 2011. The Catholic League and the Ancient Order of Hibernians protested this decision. When the votes were cast and the results were announced in 2012, Nast did not make the cut.
Medford, MA – The campus newspaper of Tufts University, Tufts Daily, published an article called “Get Your Rosaries Off Our Ovaries.” The undergraduate author peddled anti-Catholicism, demonizing “uber-conservative” Catholic bishops as “an army of sexually repressed men who know nothing about birth control or women’s bodies and probably even less about sex.”
Washington, D.C. – In the March edition of GW Medicine Notes, Dr. Alan G. Wasserman, chairman of the George Washington University School of Medicine, attacked the Catholic Church in the front page section titled “From the Chairman.” He used the Health and Human Services abortifacient mandate to make gross generalizations of the most vile sort about bishops and priests:
• He attacked clergy for not showing the same “passion” when “they did such an effective job at hiding the Pedophile scandal of the Church for so many years.”
• He wrote that “it’s not separation of church and state that is the problem but separation of church and boys.”
• He used the “Pedophile scandal of the Church” to recommend a change to the priesthood: “Would this be a non-issue if women were allowed to be priests?”
Bill Donohue pointed out that if a Catholic professor were to engage in a similar public trashing of Jews, Dr. Wasserman would respond with rightful indignation.
Stony Brook, NY – State University of New York at Stony Brook decreed that its students would no longer be off for religious holidays. The administration said that the change was made in the interest of academics, but students and faculty voiced opposition, saying that the new policy, which would be in effect for the next four years, disrespected those who observe religious holidays. It was as an example of intolerance of religious observance enforced by bureaucrats at a state school funded by taxpayer money.
April 12 – 19
Duluth, MN – The University of Minnesota Duluth hosted a series of events commemorating the Holocaust in a way that was patently anti-Catholic. The event was advertised with an anti-Catholic postcard depicting a Catholic prelate and a Nazi standing on top of a Jewish person. The drawing, depicting the 1933 Concordat signed between Pope Pius XI and Hitler, has been used by enemies of the Church to paint the Vatican as an accomplice of the Nazis. The events also featured a production of the 1963 anti-Catholic play, “The Deputy.”
This attempt to smear the Church with ideologically motivated pseudo-scholarship was undertaken, in the words of one organizer, “to raise awareness.” Bill Donohue wrote an extensive rebuttal that was sent to the Duluth community on April 10 (it is available in the “Special Reports” section of the Catholic League website). In an opinion piece on May 5, Leonore Baeumler, a major planner and participant of the annual Holocaust commemoration events at the University of Minnesota, defended the events, insisting that “there was no censorship of any kind.”
Seattle, WA – Gay activist Dan Savage gave a keynote address at the National High School Journalism Conference sponsored by the National Scholastic Press Association and the Journalism Education Association. He insulted the students, used profanity, and trashed Christianity; many walked out. Ironically, Savage was there to protest bullying.
“We can learn to ignore the bulls**t in the Bible about gay people,” he said. “The same way, the same way we have learned to ignore the bulls**t in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bulls**t in the Bible about all sorts of things. The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. Slave owners waved Bibles over their heads during the Civil War and justified it.”
After the students walked out in protest, Savage retorted, “It’s funny, as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the bible, how pansy-a**d some people react when you push back.”
The National Scholastic Press Association initially defended Savage’s speech, commending him for his “level of thoughtfulness” and saying that it is important for journalists to “listen to speech that offends you.” Only after reconsideration did the group, along with the Journalism Education Association, say that Savage’s speech fell short of the standards of civil discourse and offer an apology.
Fort Wayne, IN – Emily Herx, a Catholic teacher at St. Vincent de Paul School, was fired for violating Church teachings by receiving in-vitro fertilization. Not only did she sue the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, but the teacher also made the rounds on TV trying to gin up public support. The Diocese was very clear: “The process of in-vitro fertilization very frequently involves the deliberate destruction of embryos or the freezing of embryos, which the Church holds to be incompatible with the respect owed to human life.”
Washington, D.C. – A letter signed by nearly 90 faculty members and priests at Georgetown University criticized Rep. Paul Ryan’s visit to campus, saying his budget plan represented a “continuing misuse of Catholic teaching” because it allegedly hurts the poor. In the past, there were no letters of protest from the faculty about the “misuse of Catholic teaching” in response to Georgetown’s pro-abortion clubs, the speech given by hardcore pornographer Larry Flynt on campus, or the removal of crucifixes and religious symbols by the Obama advance team.
April 29 – May 7
Elmhurst, IL – On the same day that gay activist Dan Savage issued an apology for the obscene remarks he made to high school students at the National High School Journalism Conference, he spoke before a crowd at Elmhurst College in Illinois. Here is what he said about Pope Benedict XVI’s rejection of gay “marriage”:
“What the pope is saying is that the only thing that stands between my d**k and Brad Pitt’s mouth is a piece of paper.”
“What the pope is saying, once we’re all gay married, we’re going to go extinct in a generation. Because once we’re all gay married, we’re going to forget which hole s**ts babies.”
The Catholic League responded with a strongly worded statement condemning this outrage. It was sent to the Elmhurst media, the college’s board of trustees, local government officials, and every Catholic high school principal in the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Joliet. They were informed how this college, which boasts of its commitment to diversity and tolerance, treats Catholics.
On May 7, Rev. Robert Ullman, a member of the Elmhurst College Board of Trustees, responded by e-mail to the Catholic League’s news release on Savage’s obscene talk. The United Church of Christ minister accused Donohue of making racist statements against Elmhurst College’s president before wildly denouncing the Catholic Church:
“Given the recent New York Times’ column exposing the pope’s denunciation of women religious while at the same time defending the Roman Catholic church’s position on male-only ordination and covering up sexual abuse by some of those same male-only clergy should give you pause in denouncing a College, a President and a Church willing to walk into the murky waters of human sexuality and Christian morality.”
Bill Donohue responded in a press release, exposing Ullman as a “disgrace to higher education.”
Tampa, FL – A fourth-grader at Lewis Elementary School in Temple Terrace brought in to class invitations to an Easter egg hunt organized by members of a local church. The invitations said his classmates “would have fun and learn the true meaning of Easter.” The school’s principal prohibited the distribution of the invitations and sent a note home. The boy’s mother took the case to court. The school board’s attorney found it objectionable that the invitation came not from the boy, but from the church. His explanation omitted the fact that the boy had a First Amendment right to religious expression and free speech, a right that was violated.
Washington, D.C. – Georgetown University invited Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to speak at a commencement ceremony. The Archdiocese of Washington strongly criticized Georgetown with an editorial in the Catholic Standard, calling the university’s response to Sebelius “disappointing, but not surprising.”
June 15 – July 31
San Bernardino, CA – The “Annual Student Art Exhibition” at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) featured the work of Humberto Reynoso, whose ceramic figure, “Self Portrait,” depicted a man lying on his back with a red cross inserted in his anus. There was a warning posted in the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art that housed this “art.” It said, “This exhibition contains explicit adult content and works that may be disturbing to some. Viewer discretion is advised.” Perhaps most telling was the statement below the warning: “Art is about many things, including—and especially—ideas; and a university is precisely the place for the free expression of ideas, especially controversial ones. CSUSB supports students’ rights to free expression.” (Italics in the original.) Bill Donohue noted that this statement was factually incorrect: “The university is not about ‘the free expression of ideas’: it is about the pursuit of truth.”
Lansdale, PA – After Ted Udinski was fired as the lacrosse coach at Lansdale Catholic High School in 2011, he made several accusations over a seven-month period claiming that the football coach and the new lacrosse coach were sexually abusing students. He also maintained that the principal of the suburban Philadelphia school, Tim Quinn, knew about the offenses. False accusations against priests are hardly uncommon, but, in this instance, anti-Catholicism accounted for lies against lay Catholics. After detectives spent 184 hours on this case, interviewing 97 people (at a cost of more than $8250), they determined that the charges were bogus. Udinski’s motive was revenge. He said, “I just wanted to get back at the church, Tim Quinn, and I was just generally mad.” (Italics added.)
July 23 – August 29
Austin, TX – The July issue of Social Science Research featured the published findings of University of Texas at Austin professor, Mark Regnerus, concerning how well children fare in households where gay parents reside. They were found not to do as well as children raised in homes where both a father and a mother live.
The article unleashed the ire of gay activist, novelist and freelancer Scott Rose (his real name is Scott Rosenzweig), who lodged a complaint against Regnerus with University of Texas president William Powers, Jr. An inquiry was immediately made in order to see if an investigation was warranted.
Rose’s letter to the university president was not the reasoned disagreement of a colleague in the field who sought to critique a peer-reviewed journal. Instead, it showcased the hateful attempt by an anti-Catholic bigot to malign a Catholic social scientist for his findings by suggesting that his faith played some nefarious role. Rose noted in his letter that, “Regnerus converted from evangelical Protestantism to Catholicism; his Church is very aggressively involved worldwide in fighting against gay rights, including in the United States…”
Bill Donohue weighed in on this issue, not on the content of Regnerus’ article, but solely as it related to the anti-Catholic animus displayed by Rose, noting his well-documented history of anti-Catholicism, which includes particularly vitriolic remarks about New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan as a “gay basher and child rapist enabler.” Rose had even contacted the IRS asking them to strip the Catholic Church of its tax-exempt status.
Donohue noted: “It is not the business of the Catholic League to sit in judgment of the way the University of Texas handles complaints against its faculty. But when it comes to bashing a professor because of his Catholicism, and when the Catholic Church is treated with vitriol in such a public manner, it takes on a dimension that transcends ordinary campus issues.”
No investigation of Regnerus was undertaken.
Shorewood, WI – After one parent complained that the inclusion of a bishop’s miter and cross on the logo of a school team’s football helmet violated the Constitution, the Shorewood School District ordered the school to change its logo. The district has a unique relationship with Messmer High, a private Roman Catholic school, which joined forces with another school to form a football co-op. The logo was designed by a student and approved by administrators and coaches. It included not just the bishop’s miter and cross, but also the greyhound logo of Shorewood. The superintendent of the Sherwood School District called the removal of the logo a “teachable moment.”
Marion, NC – At West Marion Elementary School, administrators censored a line from a first-grade student’s Veterans Day poem, referring to her grandfather’s belief in God: “He prayed to God for peace, he prayed to God for strength.” The student was supposed to read the poem at a Veterans Day ceremony to honor her grandfather, a Vietnam veteran. The Alliance Defending Freedom intervened and sent a letter to the school district requesting that administrators refrain from censoring students’ religious views.
November 13 – December 5
Medford, MA – At Tufts University, Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF), an evangelical Christian student group was in danger of losing its status after a branch of student government voted to withdraw recognition. It was claimed that the group violated the school’s nondiscrimination clause by requiring its leader to adhere to the faith that gives the group its specific character. TCF appealed the de-recognition. The Tufts University Committee on Student Life responded by making a policy change that safeguarded religious requirements for leaders of religious groups.
Hanover, NH – At Dartmouth College, the Atheists, Humanists, Agnostics club hosted an anti-Mother Teresa event. It featured the screening of an anti-Mother Teresa film and a discussion of Christopher Hitchens’ book, Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice. Only a few people attended.
Berkeley, CA – The University of California at Berkeley considered a ban of Salvation Army donation boxes on campus after a formal resolution was passed by the Associated Students of the University of California at Berkeley. The organization came under fire for holding Christian beliefs on marriage and the family.
Ypsilanti, MI – A student won a settlement after being expelled from a counseling program at Eastern Michigan University for not endorsing homosexuality. She had told professors that her Christian faith prohibited her from affirming homosexual behavior. She had been expelled afterwards, just a few classes shy of her Master’s degree. Her legal counsel from Alliance Defending Freedom said, “Public universities shouldn’t force students to violate their religious beliefs to get a degree.” The student emphasized, “I had never refused to counsel homosexuals, I had simply refused to affirm their lifestyle.” After asking for a formal hearing, the student noted that, “I was met with more intolerance…unanimously, they decided to expel me from the program.”
Philipsburg, NJ – A longtime substitute teacher at a middle school faced a 90-day suspension for sharing a Bible verse with a student and giving the student a Bible. The Philipsburg School Board said that the substitute teacher broke two policies. One prohibits the distribution of religious literature on school grounds; the other mandates that teachers be neutral when discussing religious material.