Georgetown Did Not Cover Over Name of Jesus When First Lady Laura Bush Spoke

By Matt Cover | April 16, 2009 | 4:54 PM EDT

Mrs. Bush speaking in Gaston Hall at Georgetown University on Dec. 4, 2006, with "IHS" on pediment behind her. (White House photo)

( – As First Lady, Laura Bush spoke at Georgetown University in front of the same "IHS"--a symbol for the name of Jesus--that the Jesuit school covered over when President Barack Obama spoke there on Tuesday.
On Dec. 4, 2006, Mrs. Bush spoke on the same Gaston Hall stage that President Obama used for his speech on Tuesday. Mrs. Bush was speaking to announce a partnership between the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council and Georgetown University.  The event was captured by a White House photograph that shows the IHS on the pediment directly behind the podium where Mrs. Bush is speaking.
Joining the then-First Lady on the stage were then-Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky, then-Afghan Ambassador to the United States Said Jawad, and Georgetown University President Dr. Jack DeGioia, who introduced President Obama on the same stage on Tuesday.

The official photo of the event was discovered by National Review Online Editor Kathryn Jean Lopez and posted on NRO's "The Corner."
The IHS symbol behind Mrs. Bush would have been seen in the same place during Obama’s speech had it not been covered over by Georgetown.

In a written statement to on Wednesday, Georgetown Associate Vice President Julie Green Bataille said that the IHS symbol had been covered over when "Georgetown honored the White House staff’s request to cover all of the Georgetown University signage and symbols behind the Gaston Hall stage."

In the statement, Bataille also said: “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.”

Pediment in Gaston Hall with "IHS" covered as photographed by, April 15, 2009. (Photo by Penny Starr,

On Thursday, the White House said in a statement:  “The President appreciated the gracious hosts at Georgetown University where he delivered his speech on the state of the economy. 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.”

In a Thursday telephone interview with, Georgetown Associate Vice President Bataille said the White House statement was consistent with her own statement of Wednesday explaining why the symbol for the name of Jesus had been covered.