When it comes to Seattle, uber-liberalism is definitely the name of the game. So, it was refreshing to hear Seattle University’s president make the decision to remove Planned Parenthood from a university website about health services. Of course, he came immediately under attack from some students and faculty members over the decision. That shouldn’t be shocking in a city like Seattle, but it is a bit surprising since it’s a Catholic university.
Seattle University is one of 27 Jesuit universities across the country. According to the university’s website, where the tab “Jesuit Tradition” is featured prominently on the front page, the students are “encouraged to grow personally and spiritually, testing their values, developing a sense of responsibility for themselves and their community, and learning about making ethical choices in their lives.” Unfortunately, it sounds like the university has somewhat failed when it comes to encouraging its students to make ethical choices when it comes to abortion.
It all started when Students for Life sent letters to several Christian universities asking them to remove links to Planned Parenthood from their websites. In the case of Seattle University, the link to the abortion business was on a health services page. Sundborg, who is affectionately known as Father Steve, is the first, and currently only, university official to make the change after being alerted by the pro-life student group.
“I made this decision, consistent with my own and other presidents’ previous practice, in my responsibility to publicly represent our university as Catholic and in reflecting the central teaching of the Catholic Church regarding abortion—specifically as a significant moral issue—and not any other services provided by Planned Parenthood,” Sundborg stated in a letter to the university.
But some students, alumni and faculty members were upset. In fact, more than 1,000 signed a letter in protest and some faculty members even put Planned Parenthood’s logo on their office doors.
One student stated that she and others were “really upset” that an “unaffiliated pro-life group was able to so quickly influence our president’s decision.”
It seems like someone should tell her that it is the Catholic church and the Pope who disagree, and not that her university president somehow came under the “evil” influence of a pro-life group. If students and faculty members disagree with one of the most basic and principled teachings of the Catholic church, you wonder why they even attended or chose to work at the university in the first place.
It shouldn’t be surprising that a Catholic university would want to distance itself from an abortion business like Planned Parenthood. If a student or faculty member disagrees, there are options. An option is the University of Washington, which is literally about 10 minutes away from Seattle U.
But I’ve seen firsthand how a liberal city and community can influence a Christian university. I’m an alumnus of Seattle Pacific University, a Methodist school that’s about 20 minutes from Seattle University. When I attended back in 2005, the university did have a rather meandering statement about its stance on human sexuality, which included its belief of marriage between one man and one woman. That’s not really the case anymore. Just a quick search of the website shows that there is a link to a so-called LGBT scholarship database and there’s Haven, a club for the campus’ LGBTQ+ community. I’m not sure if the administration has come out in support of gay marriage, but the university has been pressured to go as far as replacing its statement on Human Sexuality, mentioned above, with a Statement of Affirmation for LGBTQ+ students.
The culture can definitely have a negative influence on any university. It’s sad to see a school like Seattle Pacific and Seattle University being pushed, and in the case of Seattle Pacific caving, to the liberal abortion and LGBT agenda. But so far Sundborg is standing strong on the foundations of his faith.
Pray that he does not bow to the pressure of the pro-abortion lobby and keeps the standards of Catholicism in one of the most liberal areas of the country. It isn’t easy.
Photo from Seattle University