Occult divination and sexual deviation promoted by Notre Dame

Notre Dame recently signed a contract with Barnes and Noble, switching their bookstore services from Follett Company. This change has brought with it several decks of tarot cards, an increased promotion of astrology, and numerous sexualized children’s books. 

The youth section on the second floor of the bookstore contains several books about “Queer Heroes” from history, a picture book about Harvey Milk, and “Pride 1-2-3.”

One of these picture books, Queer Heroes: Meet 53 LGBTQ Heroes from Past and Present, offers, among other things, a brief biography of the transgender movie directors the Wachowskis, focusing on their sex transitions and “how lucky they both were to have the acceptance and support of their family and access to therapy and other professional help during their transitions.”

This illustrated children’s book also contains a brief biography of Josephine Baker, picturing her, nearly nude, in her performance outfit. Other books tell the story of Leonoardo da Vinci, focusing on his alleged homosexuality, and also claim the vowed-virgin Christina of Sweden was part of the LGBT community because “unfortunately, there was a rule that queens had to get married to men” so she abdicated her throne.  

Sherif and Gabby Girgis, who are on the faculty at the Notre Dame Law School and the Notre Dame Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government, respectively, and who are also the parents of three young children, spoke with the Rover about these books.

In addition to exposing children to ideas they aren’t mature enough to process, this is a reductionistic presentation of people whose heroism or greatness is simply not about the shape of their sexual desires,” the Girgises told the Rover.

They continued, “It exposes children unnecessarily to material that they cannot understand appropriately at their age, and may conjure emotions that they cannot process in a healthy way. Both might warp their sexual development and even risk making them more susceptible to abuse by normalizing for them images of sexual contact before they are ready to understand when and where that sort of interaction is and is not appropriate.”

In addition to providing sexualized images and stories for young children, Hammes Bookstore currently sells six different decks of tarot cards, books on how to use them, and numerous books on astrology and divination, including Supernatural: Join the Hunt: Tarot Deck and Guidebook, and The Astrology of You and Me: How to Understand and Improve Every Relationship in Your Life.

“The whole realm of tarot cards, horoscopes, and all these different types of divination are ways that we try to uncover the unknown future. And the Church, as does scripture from the Old Testament, radically rejects all of this stuff as ungodly,” Fr. Terrence Ehrman, C.S.C. told the Rover. “This all deals with the first commandment to love and worship God alone, to have no other false gods.” 

Fr. Ehrman referenced the former chief exorcist of Rome, Fr. Gabriel Amorth, as stating that “all these occult practices are ways of entering into relationship with Satan and the demons because this is their realm. And this is why God forbids it for us.”

“These should not be in any way sold, promoted—this is not free speech,” Fr. Ehrman added, “I can see there being a book about astrology and its falsehood, but not a book promoting its practice … This is where diversity fails: We don’t want a diversity of false ideas. There’s no defense for having the cards themselves and books promoting their practice. There is no way this falls under academic freedom.”

Those managing the bookstore, however, felt differently. 

Colleen Jones, the Trade Operations Manager at Notre Dame’s Hammes Bookstore, spoke with the Rover about why Notre Dame carries these books:

“Don’t we teach all religions?” she asked, “We are an academic university that looks at things from every side so that students can know the whole picture to try to make a conscious decision. Some of the books that we teach are also some of the books that might be offensive, but you have to expose people to things to let them know about them.”

Jones did note, “ I have pulled things that I don’t think are appropriate, but also it’s kind of hard to do that, knowing that we should be [open to all viewpoints].” Continuing, “We’re working on getting a better selection. I’m ordering additional books … Religion is one of our better selling sections, so I order a lot of the religious titles.

When asked why the switch was made from Follett to Barnes and Noble, Jones stated, “I don’t remember there being a big problem before so I’m not sure; I really can’t talk to that … I think that decision was made by Micki Kidder, but she’s no longer in that position.”

Neither Micki Kidder, who was reassigned as vice president for Undergraduate Enrollment, nor Anne Griffith, who took over for Kidder this spring as the vice president for University Enterprises and Events, responded to a request to comment on the switch to Barnes and Noble or the decision to carry these materials. 

The bookstore is not the only place on Notre Dame’s campus promoting alternative spiritualities. A recent farmers market hosted on campus on Friday Sept. 16 included a vendor who was advertising a South Bend drag show, which promised to include “LGBTQ+ vendors, food, and libations, tarot readings and more!”

The same vendor also advertised a “Witches Fair” near Notre Dame’s campus, which would include “tarot readings” and “spell jars,” among other events. The vendor was asked to remove the drag show poster shortly after the market began, but the former remained up for the entirety of its duration. 

Fr. Ehrman also noted to the Rover, “Ever since I was a student here starting in 1987, and my brothers who were here five years earlier, the Observer has had horoscopes. It’s meant to be comic, I think—I don’t know how many people would actually go there to see what their future is—but even then, there’s nothing true about it. And it’s just an opportunity to enter into tarot cards, Ouija boards, and other things.”

The tarot cards and the sexualized children’s books continue to be sold at time of publication.

Joseph DeReuil is a junior studying philosophy and classics. He doesn’t know what tomorrow will hold, but neither do the stars. If you believe otherwise, contact him at wdereuil@nd.edu.

Image Credit:
Sarah Tanat-Johnson