Tim Drake is an award-winning writer and former journalist and radio host with the National Catholic Register/EWTN. He currently serves as New Evangelization Coordinator for the Holdingford Area Catholic Community in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. He resides with his wife and five children in St. Joseph, Minn.
The Washington Post is reporting that President Obama’s faith council is debating whether religious-affiliated social-service groups that receive federal funding to provide services should have to remove or cover religious pictures, crosses, crucifixes and other religious icons and symbols.
The debate took place during a teleconference yesterday. According to the Post, Melissa Rogers, director of Wake Forest’s Center for Religion and Public Affairs, proposed three possible actions the council could recommend.
They include: 1) removing such religious icons, 2) allowing them only if no other religious-neutral rooms are available and covering up the icons is impractical or 3) not requiring their removal, but encouraging religious organizations to be sensitive about the issue.
According to William Wan, no clear consensus emerged from the debate.
Of course, the president is no stranger to hiding Christ. Recall that when he delivered a speech at Catholic Georgetown University on April 14, the White House asked the university to cover up the letters IHS, which symbolize the name of Christ.
The debate is highly reminiscent of the European Court of Human Rights’ decision to fine Italy’s public schools because they display the crucifix.
Those proposing the removal of religious images might want to ask: What it is that motivates charitable donors and organizations to give in the first place?
Is it not the love of Christ that is motivating groups such as the Vatican, Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services and Food for the Poor to pour money, food, water, aid and volunteers into places such as New Orleans and Haiti?
A great many people seem to think that if we can hide Christ — because he might offend — he’ll simply go away. If they want Christ to go away, do they want all those who help the poor because of the Gospel to also go away?