Catholics support Obama Notre Dame appearance

Despite protests from conservative Catholics over the university's decision to award the president an honorary degree, a poll shows a majority backs the idea.

By Alex Koppelman
Published May 1, 2009 5:10PM (EDT)

Conservative Catholics have mounted a campaign against the University of Notre Dame's decision to have President Obama give this year's commencement speech, and they've managed to capture quite a bit of media attention in the process. But a new poll suggests that the movement is, as Joan Walsh wrote last month, largely limited to the right-wing, as most Catholics who've heard about the speech are fine with it.

The Pew Research Center found that, of those Catholics who say they've heard about the controversy, 54 percent approve of the school's choice. 38 percent oppose it. Among those who hadn't heard about it, only a plurality approved, but the margin was much wider -- 45 percent in favor, 18 percent opposed.

Those numbers are actually eclipsed by data Joan had previously pointed to: 73 percent of Notre Dame students, including 97 percent of its seniors, support the invitation.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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