Cardinal Newman Society

Fordham law profs demand funding for Vagina Monologues, pro-abortion groups

Cardinal Newman Society
By Cardinal Newman Society

November 20, 2012 (CNS) - A group of faculty at Fordham University Law School are urging that in light of the university president’s refusal to outright cancel an invitation to conservative author Ann Coulter, he should also be willing to fund pro-abortion groups on campus and activities like The Vagina Monologues, according to The Fordham Observer.

The faculty members are arguing that because the president of the university, Fr. Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J., refused to cancel Coulter’s invitation citing academic freedom and opted to merely admonish and publicly scold the University-funded College Republicans, they believe the administration should also fund activities antithetical to Church teaching.

According to The Observer, Tracy Higgins, professor of law at Fordham Law, and Bridgette Dunlap, Human Rights Fellow at the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, have written the open letter to the University’s president:

We would like you to explain how the decision was made to allow the College Republicans to use student activity funds to pay for the Coulter event while denying the use of such funds for other purposes deemed not to be in keeping with the University’s mission. For example, we understand that student groups may not use their budgets for the productions of the Vagina Monologues mounted by Fordham undergraduates each year to raise funds to combat violence against women. Along these same lines, Fordham’s anti-abortion club receives funding while pro-choice advocacy is censored. Why are these forms of student expression and association denied support while the Coulter event was not? Is pro-choice advocacy or the Vagina Monologues more inconsistent with the University’s mission than Coulter’s hate speech you rightly decry? Are they less entitled to respect in the free exchange of ideas in the Academy?

What should be shocking about this, although not surprising, is that Fordham hired Dunlap as a faculty member at all. The last time Campus Notes reported on the radically pro-abortion rights writer Dunlap, she was a law student on campus with a club called Law Students for Reproductive Justice organizing a birth control clinic just off campus. Since graduating, she publicly accused Archbishop William Lori of being a liar, when he said the issue the Church has with the HHS mandate isn’t about contraception but about “whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception or sterilization, even if that violates their religious beliefs.”

Dunlap wrote that she was reticent about calling Abp. Lori a liar it because “there is a first-grader in plaid somewhere inside of me who hesitates to say this,” but in the end she said plainly “this is a big lie.”

Fordham has hosted The Vagina Monologues for the past two years.  The officially recognized student group Law Students for Reproductive Justice recently hosted an off-campus birth control clinic just last month and advertised it on their blog which is linked to on the university’s website.


Here’s the letter in full:

Dear President McShane:

We are members of the Fordham community writing about your response to the now cancelled Ann Coulter speaking engagement at Fordham.  Though the College Republicans withdrew the invitation to Ms. Coulter in light of the outcry from their peers, the problem remains that the University was willing to allocate over $10,000 to this event even while denying funding to other student and departmental initiatives featuring speakers or topics with which it disagrees.  We appreciate your statement distancing the University from Ms. Coulter’s hateful rhetoric and defending free speech and academic freedom.  We remain deeply troubled, however, by the University’s inconsistency regarding which events it denies funding or otherwise censors on campus.

We would like you to explain how the decision was made to allow the College Republicans to use student activity funds to pay for the Coulter event while denying the use of such funds for other purposes deemed not to be in keeping with the University’s mission.  For example, we understand that student groups may not use their budgets for the productions of the Vagina Monologues mounted by Fordham undergraduates each year to raise funds to combat violence against women.  Along these same lines, Fordham’s anti-abortion club receives funding while pro-choice advocacy is censored.  Why are these forms of student expression and association denied support while the Coulter event was not?  Is pro-choice advocacy or the Vagina Monologues more inconsistent with the University’s mission than Coulter’s hate speech you rightly decry?  Are they less entitled to respect in the free exchange of ideas in the Academy?

We would also appreciate a clear statement of the policy regarding advertising of events on campus, another form of speech recently censored by the University.  In stark contrast to your position that prohibiting Ms. Coulter from speaking would “do violence to the academy, and to the Jesuit tradition of fearless and robust engagement,” the University recently prohibited the posting of flyers for Prescribe Fordham 2, an off-campus event sponsored by a number of academic departments at which volunteer doctors provided students with uncensored sexual and reproductive health counseling and services.  The event, which was banned from campus, was aimed at addressing the problems that result from the restrictions the University places on the medical providers at its student health centers and the prohibition on condom distribution.

Student Affairs Dean Keith Eldredge asserted that allowing the Prescribe Fordham 2 flyers to be posted would violate Catholic teaching, and that anything that violates Catholic teaching violates the University’s mission.  Is this your position?  If so, how did you determine that funding Ms. Coulter’s speech would be in keeping with Fordham’s mission?  Following two incidents last year in which racist and homophobic slurs were found on Fordham campuses, Vice President Jeffrey Gray told students in an email, “there is no room at Fordham University for bigotry of any kind, directed at any individual or group.”  Ms. Coulter, who has been clear about her disdain for college campuses, is famous for her vicious rhetoric and use of slurs to describe those with whom she disagrees.
From your response to the Coulter controversy, you appear to believe that her speech is not consistent with the University’s mission.  We can only assume, therefore, that Ms. Coulter and the College Republicans were not subject to the “Catholic teaching” litmus test applied by Dean Eldredge.  If this is correct, could you please explain why other groups are subject to such a test?  What is the principle you rely upon to distinguish between the types of student and faculty speech that will be censored and which will not?

As you noted in your remarks at graduation regarding the controversy over inviting John Brennan to speak at that event, Fordham should be a place where diverse views can be debated.  However, the pattern of censoring Fordham academic departments, and women’s and LGBTQ student groups, makes the funding of Coulter’s speech especially troubling.  We are not suggesting that Coulter or the group that invited her should have been censored.  Rather, we would like a clear statement of the basis for these funding and censorship decisions in light of their manifest inconsistency.

Reprinted with permission from the Cardinal Newman Society’s blog, Campus Notes.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

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