Obama And Jesus: The Georgetown Cross Controversy Is Bogus

Poor President Obama. He just can’t win with the far right.

Back when he was running for president, ultra-conservatives had a conniption because he didn’t always wear an American flag lapel pin. There were dark (untrue) hints that he wasn’t patriotic and even (untrue) accusations that he wouldn’t recite the Pledge to the Flag.

That was then. This is now.

Obama is under fire today for liking the American flag too much! When he gave a speech on the economy at Georgetown University Tuesday, his White House advance team arranged for a series of American flags and a blue drape to serve as the backdrop.

As the White House told CBN’s David Brody, “The President appreciated the gracious hosts at Georgetown University where he delivered his speech on the state of the economy. Decisions made about the backdrop for the speech were made to have a consistent background of American flags, which is standard for many presidential events.” http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/581525.aspx

Georgetown officials were glad to cooperate. In setting up the stage to the White House’s specifications, they noticed that a gold “IHS” monogram and small cross -- symbolic of the school’s Catholic character -- were still visible above the backdrop.

Georgetown’s Julie Bataille told NBC, “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. 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.” http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Jesus-Missing-From-Obamas-Georgetown-Speech.html

Now Obama critics are howling that he and the White House effectively ejected Jesus from the presidential event. This allegation is in keeping with a claim by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his Religious Right allies that the Obama administration is on a crusade to enforce secularism and oppose Christianity.

Sorry, folks, but this is getting ridiculous. President Obama is an overtly devout man; he is a practicing Christian, and we have seen no indication whatsoever that he is anti-religious.

If anything, we church-state separationists are sometimes concerned that he’s a little too “faith-based” in developing administration policy. (See our concerns about his White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and his reluctance so far to overturn deplorable civil rights and civil liberties policies put in place by George W. Bush.) http://www.au.org/site/PageServer?pagename=our_efforts_2009_faithbased

The flap over the signs at Georgetown is a tempest in a teapot, and folks on the far right need to get a grip. Let these Mad Hatters have their tea parties, and the rest of us will just ignore them.