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By William Wan
As though the White House weren’t getting enough controversy over President Obama’s scheduled commencement address next month at the University of Notre Dame, several Catholic groups and right-wing blogs spent the day expressing outrage over an previous appearance he already made at Georgetown University.
People attending his speech on Tuesday at Georgetown’s Gaston Hall noticed that a monogram representing Jesus’ name was covered up behind Obama. The symbol, made up of gold letters spelling out “IHS,” was covered by a black piece of plywood at the request of the White House, university officials said.
“In coordinating the logistical arrangements for the event, Georgetown honored the White House staff’s request to cover all of the Georgetown University signage and symbols behind the Gaston Hall stage in order to accommodate a backdrop of American flags, consistent with other policy speeches,” said university spokeswoman Julie Green Bataille in a statement.
Obama’s office called it standard protocol and said there was no specific effort against religious symbols. “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,” said spokesman Shin Inouye. “Any suggestions to the contrary are simply false.”
That did not dissuade the advocacy group Catholic League, whose president Bill Donohue issued this statement: “The bigger story is the audacity of the Obama administration to ask a religious school to neuter itself before the president speaks there ….. .Obama is in enough trouble with Catholics–over his pro-abortion executive orders and appointees, his position on embryonic stem cell research and his war on the conscience rights of healthcare workers–that it seems almost suicidal for his administration to push the envelope one more time. This is getting old fast.”
The Christogram “IHS” is derived from the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus. A conservative website CNSNews.com posted before and after pictures.