Obama, Meet Miss Manners

Georgetown University, a supposedly Catholic institution, recently invited President Obama to speak at the school. He graciously accepted, only to request that all religious symbols be covered. Georgetown, not surprisingly, acquiesced. The IHS symbol, usually depicting the name of Christ, was covered with black plywood and the name of Jesus with a blue shroud. According to White House officials, Obama desired a simple backdrop of blue with the flags; the backdrop, however, was insufficient in hiding the IHS symbol. The White House requested the coverage because “it seemed most respectful to have them covered so as not to be seen out of context,” according to the President of Communications at Georgetown University. In that case, all present should have been covered, including the President himself–as we are each a symbol of God.

Out of context? Growing up, my mother frequently would remind me of the proper behavior when I was a guest at other people’s houses. If I went for dinner, I ate what was on my plate even if I did not care for what was served. If I spent the night, I graciously accepted sharing a bed with a friend, even if they were a kicker. If they had a religious picture that did not depict or was opposed to my beliefs, I did not say anything–I was their guest.

Obama seems to have forgotten his manners. Georgetown asked the President to attend a function and, kindly, to speak. He accepted, and then proceeded to ask that all characteristics of an environment change. I dare to say, as a Catholic, that if he had attended a Mosque and requested that all religious symbols be covered, outrage would have inevitably followed. However, since the symbols were Christian, no backlash ensued.

The fact remains that Georgetown–supposedly a Catholic institution–accepted this request. As previously quoted, they did not want to seem out of context or disrespectful. Disrespectful to whom? Obama was entering a place that has specific beliefs, though weak. Georgetown is a Catholic institution. How would religious symbols be out of context?

As a Catholic, I would ask that my President return to his Miss Manners book and re-read the section on acting as a proper guest. If I attended his home, I would not ask that he cover his dog’s Swarovski crystal bowls. To ask that he remove his liberal agenda from the White House desk because it offends me would never occur to me. Instead, I would be a gracious host, compliment the cooking, and pray an opportunity for debating his many anti-Christian and anti-American policies would arise.

Also, I would request Georgetown finally return to the Religion on which she was founded. I was asked once to remove my ashes on Ash Wednesday at work. I refused. I am Catholic and I am committed to my beliefs. As a Catholic institution, I would expect them to do the same. If someone, regardless of how important they mistake themselves to be, no matter how “out of context” and disrespectful the country’s leader supposes a religion is, I would expect Georgetown to remain consistent.

Similarly, I will be interested in seeing if Obama dons the traditional doctoral robe–emblazoned with a Cross and a prayer to the Virgin Mary–when he attends the commencement at Notre Dame University. However, I am praying that Notre Dame leaves the president in the White House on Graduation Day. Why would Notre Dame even consider giving a man an honorary Law degree despite the fact that he is so opposed to the core beliefs of Christians and Catholics? Catholics and Christians, both as individuals and institutions, must remain consistent and strong. We must stick strongly to our beliefs. I will continue to pray that Obama has a conversion and becomes more accepting in his beliefs. Prayers will also be said that Georgetown and Notre Dame return to the Faith on which they were founded. Most of all, I will intercede that Obama remembers his manners.

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