The Catholic League on the attack on Catholic University of America

From The Catholic League:


October 28, 2011

Catholic University of America is being sued by George Washington University professor John Banzhaf because it does not accommodate Muslim religious practices.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments as follows:

John Banzhaf needs to be sued for bringing a frivolous lawsuit. He has no complainants—not a single Muslim at Catholic University has come to him complaining about seeing pictures of the pope or the display of crucifixes in campus buildings. Nor has a single Muslim registered a complaint with the administration of the university. This lawsuit, which follows a recent one filed by Banzhaf against Catholic University for moving towards single-sex dorms, stands not one iota of a chance of ultimately winning. Its purpose is to harass.

When Catholics enroll at Yeshiva University in New York City, they expect to see the Star of David and portraits of Moses. When Protestants enroll at the American Islamic College in Chicago, they expect to see the Crescent and Star and portraits of Muhammad. And when Muslims enroll at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., they expect to see crucifixes and portraits of Jesus. Those who attend these private schools and object to such displays need to leave and apply to a community college or a state university.

The impression is being left in the media that Muslim students are behind this assault on the First Amendment. It thus behooves Muslim leaders to denounce this lawsuit immediately. The bigot is Banzhaf, not Muslims.
Contact our director of communications about Donohue’s remarks:
Jeff Field
Phone: 212-371-3191

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Semper Idem says:

    “…portraits of Muhammad.”

    You sure about that?

  2. Titus says:

    Actually, don’t students at a Muslim university expect to see geometric designs, rock-scapes, and non-representational art? Or is AIC run by one of the movements within Islam that actually permits the drawing of the prophet and other living things? Donohue’s point, of course, is entirely correct.

  3. You beat me to it, Semper Idem!

    But historically, portraits of Muhammad weren’t prohibited. That idea seems to spring up in the 16th Century (+/-), though they claimed it was always a rule. Medieval Southwest Asia/North Africa had many paintings of Muhammad.

  4. Supertradmum says:

    Anti-Catholicism, the last permissible bigotry, is behind all of this. The spirit of the Anti-Christ is building a case for out and out persecution, and I suggest fighting this as long as we can in law, and staying in the state of grace.

  5. Goodwrites says:

    While I agree with Mr. Field and encourage his public statement, the article that I read suggests that Professor Banzhaf received a “60 page complaint” from Muslim students at The CUA.

    I too wrote a blog about this at:

    It is important for us to fight off ridiculous arguments, but the situation (i.e. attacks on Catholicism) garners a more open and wide-spread argument against such attacks. This specific attack goes to a deeper point than just an attack on The CUA and its students, priests, nuns, and the Catholic Faith.

    It is another demonstration of government encroaching upon and usurping our individual rights to choose. If the government were to force The CUA to abide by the wishes of these few Muslims at its PRIVATE university which clearly states it purpose in its Mission Statement, where does the government stop in its enforcement of what it deems as rights? We already have a government which is more than willing to walk into “blighted” areas and seize property. It shan’t end until we stand-up … not just as Catholics, but as citizens. We must fight this incursion upon the rights of our Catholic University students AND for all of our fellow citizens who are unable to see past the fact that this specific example has little to nothing to do with them — on the surface.

    Thanks Father Z!

  6. randomcatholic says:

    I thank Bill Donahue for his defense of common sense.

    This lawsuit is both frivolous and insulting. The vast majority of Americans will find it offensive. The danger of course is that they don’t speak out. I agree with “supertradmum.” We need to fight this as long as we can and stay in the state grace.

    I disagree that anti-Catholicism is the last permissible bigotry however. Secularists are after all of us. And anti-mormonism is alive and well to name just one famous example.

  7. Louis OblOSB says:

    We need tort reform. I speak, unfortunately, from personal experience.

  8. AndyMo says:

    Does Banzhaf even have the legal standing to file such a lawsuit?

  9. lucy says:

    Amen, Father. My husband works for the state here in California, where many Muslims work. They are not even American citizens! Most of them don’t understand the media’s attack on Christian practice. They say, if you’re Christian, practice your religion. We’re not the least bit offended.

    It’s pure attack by the liberal media.

  10. norancor says:

    Iconoclasm is a hallmark of Wahhabism, or Salafism. They are the motivating school of Islamist thought behind al-Qaeda, and you are right WhollyRoaminCatholic. The prohibition of images of Muhammad, along with destroying of pilgrim shrines, non-Islamic symbols, and general mayhem of modern militant Islam flows from Muhammad Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, and their “original intent” version of superorthodoxy. They are like super-Protestants. The oneness of God, like Prots exclusivity of Jesus, and His exclusive place in worship demands everything else that may even hint of veneration or respect to be destroyed – usually violently. He lived from 1703-1792.

  11. fwbear says:

    I’m with Semper Idem…”portraits of Muhammad”…please!…Poor Bill Donahue…as usual he displays a lamentable lack of knowledge about most things.

  12. jilly4ski says:


    Normally no, Banzhaf would not have standing to pursue this lawsuit. However, I believe it is a quirk in D.C.’s discrimination law which gives third parties the right to sue for perceived oppression of others.

  13. JMody says:

    @ Semper Idem and fwbear:
    consider an alternate possibility — is it tongue-in-cheek? Is it a satirical dig at Banzhaf? Is it a call to the Danes to publish more cartoons?
    Or consider the mediation that could be offered — what if Catholic University agreed to put up images of Mohammed, like the fresco in Bologna showing him in Dante’s Hell?

    Come on, open your minds. Don’t rush to judgment! :)

  14. catholicmidwest says:

    JMody, agree. This prof doesn’t seem to understand the first thing about muslim culture. With comments like these I’d be surprised if he’s ever been in a mosque. Muslims, including those in the US, don’t put up pictures of Mohammed. It’s considered sacrilegious to them.

    I have an idea. Since this guy works at George Washington University, maybe he ought to put up some of these “holy pictures” on the door of his office there, and see how his idea works. George Washington university is a better place for a big protest by Muslims, and all the attendant costs and craziness anyway. He wants it, I say let him have it. He’s got such big ideas about what everyone else should be doing, but he’s not doing it himself. Hypocrite.

  15. Dan says:

    Has Banzhaf ever heard of Civil Rule 11? It provides for court-imposed sanctions against parties who file frivolous complaints. Unfortunately, there is a safe-harbor provision that allows the offending party to retract their complaint before a judge has the opportunity to punish them. Looks like Banzhaf is playing fast and loose with the legal system simply to harass Catholic institutions.

    Also….”When Protestants enroll at the American Islamic College in Chicago, they expect to see the Crescent and Star and portraits of Muhammad.” Really? Donahue’s statement is great, but maybe he should do a fact-check about this one…you’d think that after the Danish cartoon incident, EVERYONE would know how Muslims feel about pictures of Mohammad….

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