Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Sunday, 2015

Garrison Keillor reminds us at his Writer's Almanac of the origin of the word Easter, the Easter bunny and the custom of decorating Easter eggs.

And on television one of the Christian Zionist channels shows an image of the president speaking at Georgetown University, making a point to report how he refused to speak unless they covered up the cross behind the lectern.  This, of course, is all the evidence needed to once again underscore how duplicitous and un-Christian the man is. But having got in that swipe they moved on to a less political message.

I checked the backstory and sure enough something like that did happen in 2009, six years ago.  It was not on Easter, which in 2009 was two days earlier. This is from and half the links no longer work, but enough are still active (including NBC) to validate their explanation.
This mini-controversy bubbled up shortly after President Obama gave a speech on the economy on April 14 in Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall. Numerous media outlets reported on it, all of them saying virtually the same thing. But we’re still getting several queries from readers about it. 
The monogram "IHS" – a symbol for Jesus – that appeared behind the podium where Obama spoke at Georgetown was covered up with a piece of black-painted plywood. This led to speculation that the White House had asked that all religious imagery in the hall be covered or removed, as our reader notes. But Georgetown University and the White House have said this was not a case of any kind of religious cover-up. (Cybercast News Service, which says it aims to counter a liberal bias in the media) was one of the first to cover the story, and it reported that Julie Green Bataille, associate vice president for communications at the university, said that all university signs were covered to accommodate a presidential backdrop: 
Georgetown University spokeswoman Julie Green Bataille: In coordinating the logistical arrangements for yesterday’s event, Georgetown honored the White House staff’s request to cover all of the Georgetown University signage and symbols behind Gaston Hall stage. 
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.
Bataille’s statement has been repeated in other news accounts. A White House spokesman also told news organizations following the story that the only motivation behind the request was to create a presidential image for TV. "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. Any suggestions to the contrary are simply false,” spokesman Shin Inouye told ABC News, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times noted that while the "IHS" behind the president’s podium wasn’t visible, "the letters ‘IHS’ are posted elsewhere around the hall approximately 26 times" and that Obama mentioned Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in his remarks. There are also religious paintings visible high above Obama’s head in MSNBC’s video of the speech.
And so in the midst of the RFRA flap  Easter Sunday becomes more than the sacred occasion celebrated by Christians for centuries. This year they also launch anointed scud Mediamissiles (defensive, you know) in an ongoing War Against Religion.  Just as diplomatic efforts to resolve Middle East conflicts become evidence of weakness, attempts on my part to bring reason to an emotional argument are met with indifference.

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