May 14, 2009

Catholic Opinion on Notre Dame Controversy Differs by Church Attendance

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life found that about half of American Catholics have heard at least a little about the controversy over the University of Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Barack Obama to speak at the university’s May 17 commencement and receive an honorary degree. A similar number of Catholics say that the university was right to invite Obama.

The survey also finds that among both Catholics overall and white non-Latino Catholics, opinion on this issue varies by church attendance. Those who attend Mass at least weekly are more likely than those who attend less often to have heard about the controversy and to say it was wrong for Notre Dame to invite Obama.

Additionally, Catholics who have heard about the controversy are more likely than Catholics who have not heard about it to say it was wrong for Notre Dame to invite Obama. But even among Catholics who have heard about the controversy, 54% say that Notre Dame was right to invite him. For more information on this and other findings, see the original survey report.

Catholic opinion

Data from a Pew Forum survey conducted April 23-27, 2009, among 2,003 American adults, including 389 self-identified Catholics.

Question wording:
How much, if anything, have you heard about each of the following? Have you heard a lot, a little or nothing at all? Criticism of Notre Dame by abortion opponents for inviting Barack Obama to speak at its graduation and receive an honorary degree.

Do you think it was right or wrong for Notre Dame to invite Obama to give their graduation speech and receive an honorary degree?

Note: Results for Latino Catholics are not reported separately because interviews were only conducted in English.