SHAME AND COWARDICE AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY
Georgetown University, located in the District of Columbia, is a Roman Catholic institution, founded by the Society of Jesus, otherwise known as the Jesuits, in 1789. On April 14, 2009, Barack Obama delivered an address on its prestigious campus. In Gaston Hall, where he appeared, there is a Christian symbol, specifically a gold monogram with the letters "IHS" (the first three Greek letters in the name "Jesus"), inscribed on a pediment there. The Obama administration requested university officials to cover this Christian symbol during Mr. Obama's address. University officials acceded to the request. One of them, the Rev. Thomas Reese, explained later that he did not think the request was "motivated by theology, but by communications strategy." Yes, a strategy to expunge any inkling of the Christian religion from American politics.
Obama believes in and supports a secular state. He will tell you, I am willing to wager, that America's public square should be cleansed of religion except for the "ceremonial deism" to which the Supreme Court refers in some of its opinions on church and state. He might even justify this position by appealing to "the separation between church and state." The President, if questioned closely, would also admit that ours is a "godless constitution." There has never been a less substantiated and more poorly reasoned interpretation of our constitution than this one. Many intellectuals have accepted it hook, line, and sinker. That is why I was pleased to explode the theory in my book, America Unraveling.
So, actually, what the Obama administration requested of Georgetown University does not surprise me in the least. I am personally convinced that the man discounts most of the traditions and values of American culture anyway, especially the fact that the Christian faith has been the deepest wellspring of meaning and value we have in the West. No, Barack Obama is who he is, and that reality unfolds bit by bit over time. It is more than curious to me that his statement concerning the "moral responsibility" America supposedly bears in dropping atomic bombs on Japan, along with his alacritous criticism of America on other issues, possesses a distant, but definite philosophical kinship with the ravings of Jeremiah Wright. "Bash America First" is the theme.
The Georgetown incident is not primarily about the President, but about the university. It is profoundly troubling that a Roman Catholic university would play host to a President by agreeing to hide the primary symbol of its identity. What would have been wrong with stating, "We are a Christian university, and we will not intentionally obscure our identity for anyone. If you are uncomfortable with that, then we suggest that you deliver your address elsewhere."? The university's actions were shameful and cowardly and undoubtedly disappointing to thousands of committed Christians and Roman Catholics around the world.
If the Left succeeds in its goal of secularizing American public life, the country will have been re-invented, like it or not. American culture, the bedrock of who and what we are, will radiate a secular faith, hostile to America's history and traditions. But here is the aspect of the issue that is not often mentioned, much less discussed: once secularism is firmly entrenched, the authoritarian government will think nothing of entering religious institutions as Obama did on April 14 and insisting that one or more religious relics and symbols be covered, taken down, or even destroyed. Secularism, in other words, has a malignant way of pervading every nook and cranny of our lives, even religious spaces.
Once, while visiting Leipzig, Germany a few years ago, my guide informed me that Erich Honecker ordered that the majestic pulpit and other religious symbols in St. Thomas Church, where J. S. Bach served as organist, be destroyed. Thankfully, a few courageous men and women safeguarded the pulpit until the dawn of a better day. You see, Honecker desired to re-invent East Germany and, along with other communist thugs, managed in fact to leave his authoritarian fingerprints on many of the cultural treasures there.
"Oh," you exclaim, "that could never happen in the United States of America!" Think again and mark my words. A destructive ideology tends to sneak up on a people. A President who has the "audacity" to request a Christian university to cover religious symbols while he speaks there has taken a Honecker-like step in the wrong direction.
April 22, 2009