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May 17, 2009

Obama Addresses Abortion, Religion, and Race at Notre Dame

President Obama addressed abortion for the first time since his election during his speech to Notre Dame graduates today.

"So let's work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term," Obama said to applause.

"I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away," Obama said. "No matter how much we may want to fudge it ? indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory ? the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable." He called for a respectful debate with "open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words."

Obama re-told his conversion story of how he worked as a community organizer with church members. "I found myself drawn ? not just to work with the church, but to be in the church," he said. "It was through this service that I was brought to Christ." Obama also noted his African American race and the 55th anniversary of the day that the Supreme Court handed down the decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Here are some clips edited by the Associated Press:

Here's a video from Politico where a person in the audience starts to heckle Obama:

The full text of Obama's prepared remarks continue after the jump.

Thank you, Father Jenkins for that generous introduction. You are doing an outstanding job as president of this fine institution, and your continued and courageous commitment to honest, thoughtful dialogue is an inspiration to us all.

Good afternoon Father Hesburgh, Notre Dame trustees, faculty, family, friends, and the class of 2009. I am honored to be here today, and grateful to all of you for allowing me to be part of your graduation.

I want to thank you for this honorary degree. I know it has not been without controversy. I don't know if you're aware of this, but these honorary degrees are apparently pretty hard to come by. So far I'm only 1 for 2 as President. Father Hesburgh is 150 for 150. I guess that's better. Father Ted, after the ceremony, maybe you can give me some pointers on how to boost my average.

I also want to congratulate the class of 2009 for all your accomplishments. And since this is Notre Dame, I mean both in the classroom and in the competitive arena. We all know about this university's proud and storied football team, but I also hear that Notre Dame holds the largest outdoor 5-on-5 basketball tournament in the world ? Bookstore Basketball.

Now this excites me. I want to congratulate the winners of this year's tournament, a team by the name of "Hallelujah Holla Back." Well done. Though I have to say, I am personally disappointed that the "Barack O'Ballers" didn't pull it out. Next year, if you need a 6'2" forward with a decent jumper, you know where I live.

Every one of you should be proud of what you have achieved at this institution. One hundred and sixty three classes of Notre Dame graduates have sat where you are today. Some were here during years that simply rolled into the next without much notice or fanfare ? periods of relative peace and prosperity that required little by way of sacrifice or struggle.

You, however, are not getting off that easy. Your class has come of age at a moment of great consequence for our nation and the world ? a rare inflection point in history where the size and scope of the challenges before us require that we remake our world to renew its promise; that we align our deepest values and commitments to the demands of a new age. It is a privilege and a responsibility afforded to few generations ? and a task that you are now called to fulfill.

This is the generation that must find a path back to prosperity and decide how we respond to a global economy that left millions behind even before this crisis hit ? an economy where greed and short-term thinking were too often rewarded at the expense of fairness, and diligence, and an honest day's work.

We must decide how to save God's creation from a changing climate that threatens to destroy it. We must seek peace at a time when there are those who will stop at nothing to do us harm, and when weapons in the hands of a few can destroy the many. And we must find a way to reconcile our ever-shrinking world with its ever-growing diversity ? diversity of thought, of culture, and of belief.

In short, we must find a way to live together as one human family.

It is this last challenge that I'd like to talk about today. For the major threats we face in the 21st century ? whether it's global recession or violent extremism; the spread of nuclear weapons or pandemic disease ? do not discriminate. They do not recognize borders. They do not see color. They do not target specific ethnic groups.

Moreover, no one person, or religion, or nation can meet these challenges alone. Our very survival has never required greater cooperation and understanding among all people from all places than at this moment in history.

Unfortunately, finding that common ground ? recognizing that our fates are tied up, as Dr. King said, in a "single garment of destiny" ? is not easy. Part of the problem, of course, lies in the imperfections of man ? our selfishness, our pride, our stubbornness, our acquisitiveness, our insecurities, our egos; all the cruelties large and small that those of us in the Christian tradition understand to be rooted in original sin. We too often seek advantage over others. We cling to outworn prejudice and fear those who are unfamiliar. Too many of us view life only through the lens of immediate self-interest and crass materialism; in which the world is necessarily a zero-sum game. The strong too often dominate the weak, and too many of those with wealth and with power find all manner of justification for their own privilege in the face of poverty and injustice. And so, for all our technology and scientific advances, we see around the globe violence and want and strife that would seem sadly familiar to those in ancient times.

We know these things; and hopefully one of the benefits of the wonderful education you have received is that you have had time to consider these wrongs in the world, and grown determined, each in your own way, to right them. And yet, one of the vexing things for those of us interested in promoting greater understanding and cooperation among people is the discovery that even bringing together persons of good will, men and women of principle and purpose, can be difficult.

The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm. The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts. Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son's or daughter's hardships can be relieved.

The question, then, is how do we work through these conflicts? Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort? As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate? How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?

Nowhere do these questions come up more powerfully than on the issue of abortion.

As I considered the controversy surrounding my visit here, I was reminded of an encounter I had during my Senate campaign, one that I describe in a book I wrote called The Audacity of Hope. A few days after I won the Democratic nomination, I received an email from a doctor who told me that while he voted for me in the primary, he had a serious concern that might prevent him from voting for me in the general election. He described himself as a Christian who was strongly pro-life, but that's not what was preventing him from voting for me.

What bothered the doctor was an entry that my campaign staff had posted on my website ? an entry that said I would fight "right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman's right to choose." The doctor said that he had assumed I was a reasonable person, but that if I truly believed that every pro-life individual was simply an ideologue who wanted to inflict suffering on women, then I was not very reasonable. He wrote, "I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words."

Fair-minded words.

After I read the doctor's letter, I wrote back to him and thanked him. I didn't change my position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my website. And I said a prayer that night that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me. Because when we do that ? when we open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think like we do or believe what we do ? that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground.

That's when we begin to say, "Maybe we won't agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions.

So let's work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women."

Understand ? I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. No matter how much we may want to fudge it ? indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory ? the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.

Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.

It's a way of life that has always been the Notre Dame tradition. Father Hesburgh has long spoken of this institution as both a lighthouse and a crossroads. The lighthouse that stands apart, shining with the wisdom of the Catholic tradition, while the crossroads is where "?differences of culture and religion and conviction can co-exist with friendship, civility, hospitality, and especially love." And I want to join him and Father Jenkins in saying how inspired I am by the maturity and responsibility with which this class has approached the debate surrounding today's ceremony.

This tradition of cooperation and understanding is one that I learned in my own life many years ago ? also with the help of the Catholic Church.

I was not raised in a particularly religious household, but my mother instilled in me a sense of service and empathy that eventually led me to become a community organizer after I graduated college. A group of Catholic churches in Chicago helped fund an organization known as the Developing Communities Project, and we worked to lift up South Side neighborhoods that had been devastated when the local steel plant closed.

It was quite an eclectic crew. Catholic and Protestant churches. Jewish and African-American organizers. Working-class black and white and Hispanic residents. All of us with different experiences. All of us with different beliefs. But all of us learned to work side by side because all of us saw in these neighborhoods other human beings who needed our help ? to find jobs and improve schools. We were bound together in the service of others.

And something else happened during the time I spent in those neighborhoods. Perhaps because the church folks I worked with were so welcoming and understanding; perhaps because they invited me to their services and sang with me from their hymnals; perhaps because I witnessed all of the good works their faith inspired them to perform, I found myself drawn ? not just to work with the church, but to be in the church. It was through this service that I was brought to Christ.

At the time, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was the Archbishop of Chicago. For those of you too young to have known him, he was a kind and good and wise man. A saintly man. I can still remember him speaking at one of the first organizing meetings I attended on the South Side. He stood as both a lighthouse and a crossroads ? unafraid to speak his mind on moral issues ranging from poverty, AIDS, and abortion to the death penalty and nuclear war. And yet, he was congenial and gentle in his persuasion, always trying to bring people together; always trying to find common ground. Just before he died, a reporter asked Cardinal Bernardin about this approach to his ministry. And he said, "You can't really get on with preaching the Gospel until you've touched minds and hearts."

My heart and mind were touched by the words and deeds of the men and women I worked alongside with in Chicago. And I'd like to think that we touched the hearts and minds of the neighborhood families whose lives we helped change. For this, I believe, is our highest calling.

You are about to enter the next phase of your life at a time of great uncertainty. You will be called upon to help restore a free market that is also fair to all who are willing to work; to seek new sources of energy that can save our planet; to give future generations the same chance that you had to receive an extraordinary education. And whether as a person drawn to public service, or someone who simply insists on being an active citizen, you will be exposed to more opinions and ideas broadcast through more means of communications than have ever existed before. You will hear talking heads scream on cable, read blogs that claim definitive knowledge, and watch politicians pretend to know what they're talking about. Occasionally, you may also have the great fortune of seeing important issues debated by well-intentioned, brilliant minds. In fact, I suspect that many of you will be among those bright stars.

In this world of competing claims about what is right and what is true, have confidence in the values with which you've been raised and educated. Be unafraid to speak your mind when those values are at stake. Hold firm to your faith and allow it to guide you on your journey. Stand as a lighthouse.

But remember too that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. It is the belief in things not seen. It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us, and those of us who believe must trust that His wisdom is greater than our own.

This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness. It should compel us to remain open, and curious, and eager to continue the moral and spiritual debate that began for so many of you within the walls of Notre Dame. And within our vast democracy, this doubt should remind us to persuade through reason, through an appeal whenever we can to universal rather than parochial principles, and most of all through an abiding example of good works, charity, kindness, and service that moves hearts and minds.

For if there is one law that we can be most certain of, it is the law that binds people of all faiths and no faith together. It is no coincidence that it exists in Christianity and Judaism; in Islam and Hinduism; in Buddhism and humanism. It is, of course, the Golden Rule ? the call to treat one another as we wish to be treated. The call to love. To serve. To do what we can to make a difference in the lives of those with whom we share the same brief moment on this Earth.

So many of you at Notre Dame ? by the last count, upwards of 80% -- have lived this law of love through the service you've performed at schools and hospitals; international relief agencies and local charities. That is incredibly impressive, and a powerful testament to this institution. Now you must carry the tradition forward. Make it a way of life. Because when you serve, it doesn't just improve your community, it makes you a part of your community. It breaks down walls. It fosters cooperation. And when that happens ? when people set aside their differences to work in common effort toward a common good; when they struggle together, and sacrifice together, and learn from one another ? all things are possible.

After all, I stand here today, as President and as an African-American, on the 55th anniversary of the day that the Supreme Court handed down the decision in Brown v. the Board of Education. Brown was of course the first major step in dismantling the "separate but equal" doctrine, but it would take a number of years and a nationwide movement to fully realize the dream of civil rights for all of God's children. There were freedom rides and lunch counters and Billy clubs, and there was also a Civil Rights Commission appointed by President Eisenhower. It was the twelve resolutions recommended by this commission that would ultimately become law in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

There were six members of the commission. It included five whites and one African-American; Democrats and Republicans; two Southern governors, the dean of a Southern law school, a Midwestern university president, and your own Father Ted Hesburgh, President of Notre Dame. They worked for two years, and at times, President Eisenhower had to intervene personally since no hotel or restaurant in the South would serve the black and white members of the commission together. Finally, when they reached an impasse in Louisiana, Father Ted flew them all to Notre Dame's retreat in Land O'Lakes, Wisconsin, where they eventually overcame their differences and hammered out a final deal.

Years later, President Eisenhower asked Father Ted how on Earth he was able to broker an agreement between men of such different backgrounds and beliefs. And Father Ted simply said that during their first dinner in Wisconsin, they discovered that they were all fishermen. And so he quickly readied a boat for a twilight trip out on the lake. They fished, and they talked, and they changed the course of history.

I will not pretend that the challenges we face will be easy, or that the answers will come quickly, or that all our differences and divisions will fade happily away. Life is not that simple. It never has been.

But as you leave here today, remember the lessons of Cardinal Bernardin, of Father Hesburgh, of movements for change both large and small. Remember that each of us, endowed with the dignity possessed by all children of God, has the grace to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we all seek the same love of family and the same fulfillment of a life well-lived. Remember that in the end, we are all fishermen.

If nothing else, that knowledge should give us faith that through our collective labor, and God's providence, and our willingness to shoulder each other's burdens, America will continue on its precious journey towards that more perfect union. Congratulations on your graduation, may God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Comments

What frightens me the most about this speech is the devilish way he casts doubt in one's faith as a way to "unite" people. This quote "it is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us" demonstrates a deeply flawed understanding of Scripture. I'd feel less unnerved if he simply came clean and called himself a Unitarian.
Please recall Luke 12:51.

Amy, I think Paul would agree with Obama. Paul said we can only "see as though through a dark glass" this side of Heaven. I don't think that Paul said we can't know anything about truth or about God, only that what we do know is not all there is to know. And Obama, not a theologian, said that is is beyond our capacity to know all God has for us. That isn't devilish, that is fairly scriptural.

I beg to differ. Obama said we cannot know with certainty what God asks of us. Yet Scripture shows us there are many things He asks of us -- first and foremost is obedience to Him and to go and make disciples. (The Bible's also extremely clear on the sanctity of human life, but Obama is suggesting that it isn't.) What is so troubling to me about this speech is its exhortation to let believers' doubt in their faith encourage them to approach other faiths with humility. Sounds pleasant, but it's more of the "all paths lead to heaven" mantra. As Christians we know Jesus said "No one comes to the Father except through Me." I know he's not a pastor; I'd just rather not hear my president preach Unitarianism, that's all.

Amy what his is asking for is not universalism, but humility. Take the whole line, Obama speaks in paragraphs, not sound bytes.

"But remember too that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. It is the belief in things not seen. It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us, and those of us who believe must trust that His wisdom is greater than our own.

This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness. It should compel us to remain open, and curious, and eager to continue the moral and spiritual debate that began for so many of you within the walls of Notre Dame. And within our vast democracy, this doubt should remind us to persuade through reason, through an appeal whenever we can to universal rather than parochial principles, and most of all through an abiding example of good works, charity, kindness, and service that moves hearts and minds.

This is a speech about politics, not religion. He asserts that we should hold on to our faith, that those that are for abortion and against abortion cannot agree on abortion and will not. But that there are things that we should be working on together.

Amy, know you the meaning of the word "epistemology"? It's the study of how we know things.

And when President Obama says we cannot know with certainty what God asks of us, he speaks the truth. Let me know what proof you have that the Bible is God's Word. Because you don't have it. We have evidence, and some of it is quite good evidence, but there is no proving out our Faith. If there were, and if we could know WITH CERTAINTY, then "faith" would be useless. Who needs faith when you know something with absolute certainty? Perhaps you are the faithless one, because you are sold so thoroughly on Christianity that you no longer wrestle with faith and doubt: you accept it as historical fact and move on. I pray none of us ever reaches that place in life this side of heaven. Adam's reference to 1 Cor 13:8-11 is spot on!

While I appreciate the tenor of Obama's words, I am dismayed that a person who claims to be a follower of Jesus is ignorant of the teachings of Jesus and words of scripture..

No, he is not a theologian, and there are many grey areas in interpretation of SOME things, there is equally clarity about others.

Despite his words, I have seen little in his public life that suggests he is a follower of Jesus. While many may grasp his words as wise, I fear it is only the wisdom of this world.

What a person says in a speech at an event like this, is not nearly as indicative of real intent as what he does. So far, President Obama, as acted to increase support for abortion, not reduce it.

There can be no faith without doubt. If there is no doubt then it is "knowledge" not "faith." I don't agree with Mr. Obama on much, but he is correct that faith necessarily admits doubt and that as mere humans relying on faith, we cannot have absolute certainty on such matters.

Semantic quibbling (Quisling?) about knowing (undoubtedly depends on what your definition of is is) does not touch the tragedy of the targeted victims - the unborn have no voice of their own. Just as the slave had no such dialog with their 'betters,' the slave traders and slave masters, with "open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words," just as Holocaust vicitms engaged in no debate with the Ubermensch, with "open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words," infanticides are disenfranchised by intellectual, if not ethical, 'superiors,' misguiding 'medical' personnel and the misguided mothers who are the collateral victims. History will perceive our generation as just as morally blind as were our racist forbears of 1860 and our Nazi cousins of 1940. Slaves, concentration camp prisoners, and now the unborn, each becomes less than people.

The bottom line is that Obama and his supporters on the left and those who are committed atheists, agnostics, and deists cannot and will not ever come to the realization of the Truth. His eyes and the eyes of his supporters do not adhere to or accept the fact there there is absolute Truth. That Truth is embodied in the person of Jesus the Christ. As the Word made flesh and as the law giver to Moses, Christ is the only one who can reveal Truth through His word in scripture, through revelation in His own word and deed, and through the leading and illumination by the Holy Spirit. Since Truth is that which personifies the character of God and which is exhibited by Christ and the Holy Spirit, All true Christ followers can know Truth--for "we have the mind of Christ." Obama and those of the apostate church will only be relegated to "always seeking (human) knowledge but never coming to the realization of Truth." What his way of thinking will always produce is opinion and beliefs that are relative and that will act as foundations to "rights." And those rights will always be changing based on one set of opinions to another set. But since Christ is constant and never changing, then Truth is absolute because it never changes--Truth is found in the character of God, God is never changing, and Christ is God. The world cannot see this nor accept this. And since Obama and others like him are focussed on the world and its values then he and they will remain blind.

If truth were absolute, none of us would have doubts. Given the theological debates through the centuries and those of others as well, this should put us on guard that truth is not absolute; and neither is truth relative in the sense of some postmodernists. Rather, truth is dialogic and we discover in communicating with those who are like us and those who are different than us only an approximation of truth--and this signifies our human imperfection and limitations.

Reading these arguments for and against absolute truth, I am reminded of Paul's sermons regarding "an unknown God" before the Greeks in Acts chapters 17-19. Doubtless they would have preferred for Paul to cede the diety of Diana as a possibility for the sake of democratic dialogue (after all, how could Paul be sure?), but we know as Christians that is heresy. We see the similar situations in the Old Testament, when the Jews are asked to accept false gods in the interests of political expediency. Yes, this is a political speech. Yes, Obama's no theologian. But please don't forget that Scripture shows us we've seen pleas for religious pluralism, or pragmatism, or whatever you may call it, before.

Back to abortion. What exactly can we point to after almost 30 years of holding on to the "truth" that what should be done is make abortion illegal. If we had spend half the money and half the time helping women that need help we probably would have saved a lot more lives. This isn't about religious pluralism, this is about pro-life people (and pro-choice as well) being unwilling to accept any thing other than their own absolute perfection in the law. Pro-choice want abortion on demand at any time for anyone. Pro-life want no abortion every, by anyone, no matter the reason. And both groups seem to think that anything else is abomination. So instead of working together to reduce abortions, help women prevent unwanted pregnancies (still 50 percent of all pregnancies are unplanned), and see where we can find common ground (as the legislative system was designed to work), we fight for our absolute truth.

This has very little to do with our fight for religious truth and an awful lot to do with being right.

The truth is right, is it not? For your information, the Catholic church, and many other Christian churches, already do a great deal to prevent abortions. But while we work to prevent it we should also fight to end it -- entirely. I'm incredulous I should have to remind you that God "knitted you in your mother's womb" and that children are a blessing, regardless of circumstances. I find your relativism on the matter strange.

Adam S. - If you, yourself are as obsessed with being 'right' as much as I think you are, you will once again have the last word. We're waiting ...

I am thankful we have a president who is aware that he doesn't know or have all the truth. I am thankful that he has put his faith in Jesus, who is Truth. I am hopeful that we will come to realize that the only way we can have peace with one another and with God is by laying our lives at the foot of the cross and learning the Way of Christ. Perhaps, then, we will understand what Jesus meant when he said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life."

Amy,
You say "Bible's also extremely clear on the sanctity of human life." I don't think it's particularly clear in addressing when human life begins. Life beginning at conception is a fairly modern idea not addressed in the Bible. Doesn't mean it's wrong, but the ancient mind didn't have our understanding of cell biology and genetics. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas decreed that the fetus acquires a soul after 40 days for males and after 80 days for females. They don't appear to have any good reason for this belief, but if these church fathers weren't convinced the soul begins at conceptions, maybe Obama's has a reason to say it's above his paygrade.

Bill and Patrick
What you said about doubt and faith goes against what the Bible teaches on the topic
The following passages clearly show that faith is the opposite of doubt
Matthew 14:31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"
Matthew 21:21 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen.
Romans 14:23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
James 1:6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.


Depending on the context, knowledge refers to what we know by sight; while faith represent what we know outside of sight
Certainty can be achieved without physical proofs (see Luke 1:4; Hebrews 11:1)

What Obama said might be politically correct but it is theological wrong
Faith is not the opposite of certainty; it is the opposite of proofs
In fact, faith requires certainty (the point of the verses above)

Adam S.

Your comments suggesting that standing against abortion is about being right and that in the meantime "If we had spent half the money and half the time helping women that need help we probably would have saved a lot more lives." -- is a false dichotomy. There are thousands and thousands of individuals and organizations that work diligently and tirelessly to help pregnant women and to seek to provide for them and give them options so they don't have abortions. It is not an either/or -- it's a both/and. While Martin Luther King Jr. and others were marching in the streets to fight for civil rights, many were also doing the same in their classrooms, businesses, communities, etc. It is about being right and about being right in the right way all at the same time.

And how about what happens to the baby after it has existed the womb? Where is the same attention paid? Isn't all life supposed to be precious? Common in these abortion threads is the blatant idea that love is given to life up to the point of being born only

=====================================================
The truth is right, is it not? For your information, the Catholic church, and many other Christian churches, already do a great deal to prevent abortions. But while we work to prevent it we should also fight to end it -- entirely. I'm incredulous I should have to remind you that God "knitted you in your mother's womb" and that children are a blessing, regardless of circumstances. I find your relativism on the matter strange.

Question "when does life begin"
Answer "That's above my pay grade"

So far actions have been support of abortion on demand and infanticide. Both were specifically condemed by the early Church. Didache pt 1:2.

While mr. Obama talked about working together to reduce the number of abortions, what did he do to try to work together with those who object to abortions when he issued his first executive orders strongly favoring abortions. Mr. Obama also said that "no one person, or religion, or nation can meet these challenges alone", he must not be thinking of the God of the Bible. This is typical secular humanism, where man is the only solution for saving the world. I wonder what he was referring to when he quoted Dr. King "recognizing that our fates are tied up" - what fate? Mr. Obama is very gifted with words, which is very dangerous because he does not often mean them. The Bible is very clear that we are not judged by our words, but by our faith evidenced in deeds.

Marci, I completely agree that it should be both/and. But it is usually not. A recent study by a Catholic research groups showed that abortions were reduced when welfare assistance payments were increased (the study said that there was likely an upper threshhold on those payment, but the threshhold was outside of the boundries of the study). So how many pro-life people are out marching for increasing welfare payments so that women that become pregnant can afford to raise their children. What about the s-chip debate last year. Religious leaders like Richard Land actively opposed increasing funding for children's insurance even though this is exactly the kind of support that women that choose to have their babies need.
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As to my "obsession with being right": What I am saying is that we have too much of an obsession with being right. That if we actually do what we say, and not just say it then it will make a difference. Yes there are churches that do something about reducing abortions. But many more churches talk about making abortion illegal than actually doing anything to reduce them. That was my point. Let's not just protest the president, but actually work on reducing abortions.


That speech sounded pretty slick. However, Obama talks about bridging the gap on abortion, then does nothing about it. During the campaign, he responded to abortion questions with a 'returning fathers program', yet we have seen nothing of it. Pat Roberson once said that if you protest abortion but do not support alternatives for mothers who carry to term, your words are meaningless. If Obama hands out slick platitudes about 'bridging the gap', and does not support some means of doing so (such as a returning fathers program), his words are meaningless.

I wanted to go to this protest, but was unable to because I live so far away. The irony here is staggering: Notre Dame means Our Lady in French (a term for the Virgin Mary). And they invite the worst pro-abortion president in history to a university dedicated to the one who bore God as a child? Something is wrong here.

Judge for yourself: Does the above paragraph reduce Obama to a caricature? Are those fair minded words?

This is less about Obama and more about the Catholics who are honoring him, in spite of instructions from their bishops and the president’s disregard for life. A slick speech is good, but without some action to back it up, it becomes a ploy.

Am I right in saying that the Chinese count the age of their children from the day of conception? In other words when they are born they
are already 9 months old. Maybe they are smarter than we are.
I am upset that here in Canada when a young women abandens her
newborn and it dies she is tried like a criminal but when she aborts
a baby in the womb it is not a criminal act. How can this be right?

I still think this is more about politics than about content. Clinton spoke and received an honorary degree and he is as much for abortion as Obama. Bush Sr, spoke and received an honorary degree after Gulf War 1, even though the pope was strongly against that war as being an unjust war. Bush Jr, spoke and received an honorary degree in 2001 even though he is strongly for the death penalty, again against Catholic teaching. FDR, Eisenhower and Reagan also spoke and received honorary degrees. What is so different that there are protests now.

The abortion issue, particularly as discussed in evangelical circles, highlights two problems with how evangelicals often approach public discussion of political issues.

First, evangelicals assume that Scripture provides them with ready access to truth. They neglect Scripture's commendation to acquire wisdom, and instead rely on out-of-context proof-texting to support their arguments. Scripture is often insufficient to tell us whether certain policy proposals are good or bad (although it is clear on some things). But typically, we are to employ godly wisdom, acquired by listening to others and observing the world around us. On abortion, the issue is not whether one is "pro-life" or "pro-death". The public debate is over whether the criminal law affords an appropriate policy lever for reducing early-term abortion. Scripture itself gives no clear counsel about when "life" begins in a spiritual sense. Therefore, it is to be expected that orthodox Protestants will disagree on whether early-term abortion merits severe criminal penalties. I bristle when rabid "pro-lifers" call out other orthodox Christians as being "pro-death". Such conduct demonstrates spiritual immaturity, not spiritual maturity.

Second, evangelicals often forget that common grace is available to both the regenerate and the unregenerate. Thus, we can publicly discuss many important moral questions if we find a common language to serve as the medium. But this means that evangelicals have to get out of the ghetto and learn to speak something other than "evangelicalese". After all, people can't agree with you if they don't understand you.

Of course, I have little hope that either of these will happen. Evangelical para-church fundraising relies too heavily on exploiting the would-be tensions between "secularists" and the faithful. Thus, in an ironic way, the pro-life movement can only survive as long as it overstates the difference between itself and everyone else.

Despite all your theological and high-minded debate, the fact remains that this President is radical in his support of abortion (even out-radicalizes NARAL, believe it or not) and his "compassion" extends to the child born of a botched abortion, which he unequivocally denies the right to life-saving measures...because, as he has said, "it's a slippery slope" from reviving that "unwanted pregnancy" to denying a woman the right to choose.

You can split theological hairs all you want. This President is no friend of the helpless or the weakest of our society.

While you continue with your high-minded debate, I choose to stand in the gap for those who cannot speak out...for those created in God's image, those who God knows before he forms them in the womb.

Sarah Pulliam article is just a sad reminder of the state of the American church. We are willing to comprimise our values the very core of our beliefs just because it may offend someone. I wonder what will be our response one day when we have to give account to the Lord for th millions we allowed to die because of our comprimise????

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20Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.
Grace be with you. 1Timothy 6:19-21
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It is refreshing to have a president who thinks! we have been missing this for quite some time now. Honest discourse is always right. Obama is causing all of us to realize that we do not know all that God has in store for us.

I liked the speech. Theologically it may have some problems, but he hits some good theological points.
His solution to great irreconcilable debates - "fair-minded words" – may seem to tone down critical issues (ie abortion) to mere intellectual disagreement, as if they were not matters of life and death, or as if such important matters did not justify righteous indignation. While such an extreme step should fain be taken lightly, perhaps there is, as Ecclesiastes says, a time to hate: to hate sins like rape, deprivation, severe exploitation, and murder. If Obama is toning down evil, resolving violent differences by ignoring their significance, than his words are not good.
On the other hand, perhaps Obama is saying, in essence, we should not hate each other regardless the hatefulness of the action; love the sinner, hate the sin. That seems the only interpretation that makes sense theologically, though his wording is much more ambiguous and politically expedient.
If our battle is, as Paul says, not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of evil, then this second interpretation is good, and the president's speech, with a few tweaks and clarifications, could make a fine sermon.

Stephen B - if you are looking for a priest or clergyman then go to your church. President Obama is the President of all Americans - the faithful and the secular. I am a Christian, a believer in the Lord Jesus, yet I suppose I am ignorant of much of Jesus' teachings. I don't think I need to know it all - just love and accept Him. Somehow, I don't think you would accept this President no matter what and I think the fault does not lie with him.

As a Catholic, I'm deeply ashamed that Obama was invited to speak on abortion at a Catholic college.

I didn't vote for Obama....for many reasons....but....when I read his words in his speach...it gave me a new outlook of him. It sounds to me like he is like a lot of the rest us who are Christians and trying to live the best way we can and love and get along all people. Not compromising his faith but understanding all people have the right to choose what they want to believe in and respect that they don't all believe what we, ourselves, believe. They are given that right by God. The right to choose. Wrong or Right! Its everyone's own choice. And that choice is between them and God now and in the long haul. If they believe in God or not.

We have become a nation of "girly men," afraid to speak Truth, lest it become an "offense" or "intolerable" to those who are blind, deaf and dumb spiritually, having no concern for life in themselves, let alone in the womb. Lies, lies and more lies, masqueraded as "progressive" and "liberal" poppycock, entrenched in satanic deception, all the while 4000 children slaughtered daily inside what should be off limit to an excuse of inconvenience. I pray for God's judgement to fall, not a revival, lest He have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorah.

As a Catholic man who is a new father, I can not understand the mindset of those that choose to have an abortion. My son is the absolute joy and light in my life and I know this is a reward from God for doing something right while I am down here.

abortion is murder, no matter how you look at it.