Barely fighting Irish

"Barely fighting Irish" Continued...

Issue: "The one and the many," Sept. 20, 2014

“The financial risks are very substantial but Notre Dame is a very wealthy institution,” said Dempsey. “It seems to me it would have been courageous and befitting their status as the leading Catholic institution in the country not to comply. … Then that would put the ball back in Obama’s court, whether he was going to exact tribute from them or not.” 

Michael Bradley, a recent graduate and son of Notre Dame law professor Gerry Bradley, agreed. Bradley has followed the case closely, and edited the Irish Rover, an independent student newspaper often critical of the administration’s decisions in regard to its Catholic mission. “If some smaller Christian institutions were to resist, not that many people would care,” he said. “There’s a great opportunity being squandered.” 

On the South Bend, Ind., campus, most students are paying more attention to the administration’s $400 million development campaign around the football stadium called “Campus Crossroads,” Bradley said, and what that development means for Notre Dame’s identity.

But Notre Dame has a conservative student body, especially compared to its peer institutions. When Notre Dame student magazine Scholastic polled students for the 2012 elections, Mitt Romney won over Barack Obama by a point, while nationally, Obama won 18- to 30-year-olds by a wide margin. Notre Dame’s right-to-life group is the largest student group on campus. No one interviewed knew of any organized opposition to the lawsuit on campus, aside from individual professors and students.

The mandate came out when Erin Stoyell-Mulholland was a freshman. The law school organized a panel about the religious liberty issues surrounding the mandate, and the event was packed. As a junior she became head of the right-to-life group on campus and continued to follow the case. “People were getting sick of hearing about the mandate,” she said. But the lengthy proceedings may succeed in helping more students understand what’s at stake. “I didn’t know much,” Stoyell-Mulholland said. “I think students are getting educated [on the mandate] … more educated than students on other campuses.”

Emily Belz
Emily Belz

Emily, who has covered everything from political infighting to pet salons for The Indianapolis Star, The Hill, and the New York Daily News, reports for WORLD Magazine from New York City. Follow Emily on Twitter @emlybelz.


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