REPORT CARD: Michigan’s Anti-Catholic Constitution; Bishop Barron Judges Students’ Work; Blasphemy Not Simply ‘Free Speech’; and more…

Michigan school battles anti-Catholic law

The Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic school filed a lawsuit last month against the state of Michigan, urging the court to find a nearly half-century ban against using state aid for private education unconstitutional, as it clearly targets Catholic schools, reports Detroit News.

Currently, the school is forced by the government to comply with myriad public health measures such as immunization compliance, criminal background checks, and fire drills but is forbidden from receiving state aid to help it comply. The school is arguing in state court that the rule, which was passed by voters as an amendment to the state constitution, violates the U.S. Constitution because it “forces a religious school to choose between remaining a religious school or become entitled to a public benefit.”

The policy came into effect after the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a lawsuit to prevent private schools from receiving government funds. The group pointed to the state’s Blaine Amendment which was passed when anti-Catholic sentiment was high.

“The Blaine Amendment is unconstitutional discrimination of religion,” said John Bursch, one of the lawyers who filed the lawsuit.

High schoolers ask Bishop Barron to judge evangelization contest

Students at Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School in Virginia are required to complete a “senior evangelization project” for their final year’s theology class. This year they were asked to create their own film about Catholicism, inspired by Bishop Robert Barron’s own work, according to Angelus News.

The students and their theology teacher reached out to the Los Angeles auxiliary bishop in a video letter on Twitter, asking him to judge the final five nominees and choose the winner of what the school is calling the “Bishop Barron Video Award.”

“How could I say no?” Bishop Barron said, adding that the request left him “very touched and moved.”

“My own thinking has kind of impacted these kids, and my own approach to evangelization has influenced them, so I was very moved by it and was very grateful to their teacher,” he said.

The seniors produced 34 videos, which will be narrowed down to the final five films to be judged by Bishop Barron. The students’ films range in subjects from the return of the Tridentine Mass to a feature on the Sisters of Life.

“I suppose I am looking for a combination of content and style,” he said. “I’d also like it to be substantive, because that has been a big part of my work—I don’t want evangelization to just be superficial and flashy.”

Blasphemy at a Jesuit College, or just a free speech controversy?

First Things Magazine published a piece recently showing that recent stories by secular media on the College of the Holy Cross professor who suggested that Jesus can be seen as a “drag king” with “queer desires” are missing the point, by framing it as a “free speech controversy.”

Sadly, that’s only beginning of the blasphemies Professor Tat-siong Benny Liew passes along, and the piece fleshes that out. Mind you, it’s disturbing reading.

But, as First Things points out, this goes far beyond a free speech issue. This issue cuts to the heart of Catholic identity at Catholic colleges.

Former Vice President Biden to deliver lecture at Saint Joseph’s University

Joseph Biden Jr., the former vice president of the United States, has been invited to address Saint Joseph’s University’s students, faculty and staff on April 24. Biden’s support of legalized abortion and his support for redefining marriage run counter to Church teachings.

SJU President Mark Reed will introduce Biden, a Catholic, and said the Jesuit university “is honored to welcome Joe Biden to campus.”

“With his lifetime of experience in the highest echelons of our government, including as vice president of the United States, he has much to share with our students and community about service and leadership,” he added.

Haub School of Business Dean Joseph DiAngelo called Biden “a visionary statesman and leader who will inspire our students and the community.”

Marquette creates website, ads to dispute conservative prof

Marquette University has created a page on its website and produced an online ad to publicly challenge a lawsuit by Dr. John McAdams, a conservative professor who has been suspended since 2014.

You might recall that Professor McAdams wrote a post reporting that a graduate student instructor had prohibited her students from expressing opposition to same-sex marriage in class. After the graduate student instructor received vitriolic email from others, Professor McAdams was suspended. McAdams filed a lawsuit, and the case has gone all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

In an effort at public relations, Marquette established a page on its website providing its side of the controversy, called “Facts About McAdams Case.” The page also features a short video in which Marquette President Michael Lovell explains the university’s position, insisting that “when one of our student teachers was made the victim of vicious, horrific, and relentless threats, we took the right and necessary action.”

McAdams said he believes his suspension had more to do with his defense of traditional marriage. “If I had blogged about (say) a male instructor who sexually harassed a female student, or a white instructor who said something racist to a black student, Marquette would not have minded,” he said. “But this was a conservative student who was demeaned because of his views on gay marriage.”

You can read about the Wisconsin Supreme Court case at Campus Reform.

Boston College professor urges students to date

Students taking Professor Kerry Cronin’s class at Boston College have an interesting way to gain extra credit: date.

The philosophy professor began assigning the extra-credit assignment when she realized that many students didn’t even understand what dating was. All they’ve known is hanging out in groups and the hookup culture, which promotes cavalier sexual intimacy. Cronin said that many young people didn’t want to participate in the hookup culture but didn’t understand dating.

After the assignment, Cronin’s students are asked to write about their “traditional” date.

Now, according to The Catholic Herald, the classroom assignment has been made into a documentary called “The Dating Project” that will hold a one-night-only showing in hundreds of theaters around the country. The film follows Cronin and a number of people of various ages seeking authentic love and meaningful relationships.

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