Jesus Missing From Obama's Georgetown Speech

White House asked university to cover symbol

By Jim Iovino
|  Friday, Apr 17, 2009  |  Updated 4:04 AM EDT
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A symbol of Jesus was apparently blacked out behind President Barack Obama during his Georgetown speech.

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Religious Symbol Cover-Up Fuels Fire Online

A decision to cover up a symbol of Jesus for the president's speech at Georgetown is upsetting many.
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Amidst all of the American flags and presidential seals, there was something missing when President Barack Obama gave an economic speech at Georgetown University this week -- Jesus.

The White House asked Georgetown to cover a monogram symbolizing Jesus' name in Gaston Hall, which Obama used for his speech, according to CNSNews.com.

The gold "IHS" monogram inscribed on a pediment in the hall was covered over by a piece of black-painted plywood, and remained covered over the next day, CNSNews.com reported.

The Washington Times' Belief Blog asked the university about the presidential request:

Julie Bataille from the university's press office e-mailed me that the White House had asked that all university signage and symbols behind the stage in Gaston Hall be covered.

"The White House wanted a simple backdrop of flags and pipe and drape for the speech, consistent with what they've done for other policy speeches," she wrote. "Frankly, the pipe and drape wasn't high enough by itself to fully cover the IHS and cross above the GU seal and it seemed most respectful to have them covered so as not to be seen out of context."

While the "IHS" directly behind where Obama spoke was covered over, CNSNews.com said the monogram was still visible in 26 other places in the hall during his speech. Those areas just weren't as prominent.

The Belief Blog talked with the Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Institute at Georgetown University, who said he didn't think "this is motivated by theology, but by communications strategy."

The blog also talked with Catholic University spokesman Victor Nakas, who felt a bit more strongly on the subject:

"I can’t imagine, as the bishops’ university and the national university of the Catholic Church, that we would ever cover up our religious art or signage for any reason," Mr. Nakas wrote. "Our Catholic faith is integral to our identity as an institution of higher education."

 

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