The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Just a precaution

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I write in response to Brendan Durr’s recent Letter to the Editor (“Cover up the crosses,” April 20) regarding the White House decision to cover up a cross and the letters “IHS” at Georgetown during a speech given by President Obama. While it is lamentable that images sacred to Christian faith were covered up, it is even more lamentable that our current society requires these actions on the part of our president.

We are lucky enough to live in a nation founded on principles of religious freedom and separation of church and state. However, we are unlucky to live in a nation where any association with religion on the part of a public official is a source of outcry. Any image with a public official with religious symbols could be construed as favoritism, which would violate any impartiality necessary to maintain a separation of church and state and to protect religious freedom.

Unfortunately for President Obama, this question of religious favoritism has plagued him since before he was our nation’s leader. His middle name, Hussein, has generated a tidal wave of attacks alleging his partiality to a Muslim faith he does not adhere to.

Given these previous attacks, it is understandable that President Obama would be cautious in how he appears with any religious symbols. While it would be amazing if our nation’s leaders could stand next to a cross, the Star of David or the Star and Crescent without public uproar, history has shown that they cannot without seeming to favor one faith over another. Until our nation can mature to the point where simple images of the president by religious symbols do not yield uproar over violations of religious freedom or separation of church and state, we will continue to see these precautionary tactics.

We as a nation have a duty to show that we will not be fooled by visual associations so that Georgetown or any other religiously affiliated institution may not have to cover religious symbols to protect our president from public slander over his stance on religious freedom and separation of church and state.

Meghan Thornton


Lyons Hall

April 20