The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. announced on Tuesday that it will remove stained glass windows depicting Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
Memorial statues are being removed from their public places across the country, particularly in the South. The two images most recently slated for removal, however, are located right in the nation’s capital.
The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Washington D.C. is more commonly known as the National Cathedral.
The cathedral calls itself “a spiritual home for the nation,” but they have been caught in controversy for years with political correctness, sensitivity, and most recently what to do about stained glass windows that bear images of the Confederacy.
The windows were installed in 1953. Former Dean of the National Cathedral, Gary Hall, called for the windows to be removed after Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people in June 2015 at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Two years later, the Cathedral Chapter voted to immediately remove the windows, saying they pose “an obstacle to worship in a sacred space.”
The windows depict images of the Confederate generals, but do not claim to be memorials. The National Cathedral contains many stained glass windows that bear depictions of U.S. history.
In the case of the Lee/Stonewall windows, even just the reference to the Confederacy is enough for them to draw controversy.
A National Cathedral press release reads:
After considerable prayer and deliberation, the Cathedral Chapter voted Tuesday to immediately remove the windows. The Chapter believes that these windows are not only inconsistent with our current mission to serve as a house of prayer for all people, but also a barrier to our important work on racial justice and racial reconciliation. Their association with racial oppression, human subjugation and white supremacy does not belong in the sacred fabric of this Cathedral.
These windows will be deconsecrated, removed, conserved and stored until we can determine a more appropriate future for them. The window openings and stone work in the Lee-Jackson Bay will be covered over until we determine what will go in their place.
In June of last year, the Cathedral Chapter voted on removing two stained glass windows depicting the Confederate Battle Flag. The windows were sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The chapter decided in favor of the windows’ removal.
Now, the cathedral says the Lee/Jackson windows are slated to be removed “immediately.”
“The recent violence in Charlottesville,” cathedral officials said Wednesday, “brought urgency to our discernment process.”
The windows will remain in storage until the cathedral decides on a place for relocation.
The Hill reports:
The Cathedral will conceal the stonework and window openings until it finds replacements.
The decision comes as Confederate memorials and statues are under renewed scrutiny following the violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last month. One counterprotester died and numerous others were injured at the “Unite the Right” rally meant to protest the removal of a statue of Lee.
The letter from the Cathedral’s leadership also explains that the Cathedral first began a dialogue about slavery and racial justice following the 2015 racially motivated shooting at a historic African-American church in Charleston, S.C., that killed nine churchgoers.
The Cathedral said it plans to open the dialogue to the community so individuals may “express their views and feelings.”
The decision to remove the windows has proved extremely controversial, and makes four windows total taken down by the Cathedral Chapter in the past two years.