National Cathedral continues to debate the Lee, Jackson windows

By Heather Beasley Doyle
Posted Feb 20, 2017

Stained glass fabricator Dieter Goldkuhle, who worked with his late father to install many of the stained glass windows at Washington National Cathedral, replaces an image of the Confederate battle flag after cathedral leaders decided in 2016 that the symbol of racial supremacy had no place inside the cathedral. The long-term fate of the windows honoring Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson remains under debate. Photo: Danielle E. Thomas/Washington National Cathedral

[Episcopal News Service] When sunlight shines through the Washington National Cathedral’s stained glass windows, colors disperse. Hues take flight from the visual stories that normally confine them to a framed, defined space. Illuminated, the freed colors alight on cathedral walls as patches of blue, shades of pink and splotches of purple, transformed from visual narratives into an ephemeral pastel version of a Rorschach test.

The aftermath of a hate crime brought two particular stained glass windows at the cathedral into sharp relief. On the evening of June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof shot 12 people, killing nine of them, during a Bible study at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The racially motivated violence prompted many institutions to take down Confederate flags. At Washington National Cathedral, then-Dean Gary Hall called for the removal of two windows – one commemorating Confederate General Robert E. Lee, the other memorializing Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Both are inlaid with a small Confederate flag, offering a clear acknowledgment of the Civil War-era South for which the generals fought.

Roof “surrounded himself in these Confederate symbols,” said Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, canon theologian at the cathedral and professor of religion at Goucher College. Acknowledging the modern-day violence associated with the symbols, the cathedral’s chapter (its governing body) formed a task force to recommend a way forward, rather than simply removing the windows.

A stained glass window dedicated to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee window was originally donated to Washington National Cathedral by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1953. Photo: Washington National Cathedral

In a report last June, the task force proposed leaving the windows in place for the time being: “The windows provide a catalyst for honest discussions about race and the legacy of slavery and for addressing the uncomfortable and too-often avoided issues of race in America. Moreover, the windows serve as a profound witness to the cathedral’s own complex history in relationship to race.” The report further urged the chapter to resolve the matter by June 2018.

Report in hand, the chapter decided that while the windows should stay, the inlaid Confederate flags could not, and swiftly replaced them with clear two clear glass panels, one blue and one red.  “The [Confederate] battle flag is a problematic, racist image that has no place in the cathedral,” said Washington National Cathedral Chief Communications Officer Kevin Eckstrom. Brown Douglas, who sat on the task force, agrees. “Whatever the Confederate flag meant historically, it has come to symbolize white supremacy,” a stance in conflict with “Christian values,” she said. Flags aside, Lee and Jackson “fought for the Confederacy, and in so doing, they were fighting to uphold the institution of slavery,” Brown Douglas added.

Cathedral leaders haven’t always believed that the Confederate legacy clashes with Episcopal principles. The cathedral accepted an offer from the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) to fund a memorial of Robert E. Lee, an Episcopalian, in 1931. UDC’s top goal is “to honor the memory of those who served and those who fell in the service of the Confederate states.” Twenty-two years would pass before the project came to fruition in the form of the stained glass windows. Cathedral archives included in the task force report show a friendly, supportive repartee between cathedral and UDC representatives. On paper, at least, no one seems to have questioned including the Confederate battle flag.

A stained glass window honoring Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson in the nave of Washington National Cathedral features scenes from Jackson’s life and his death in battle. Photo courtesy Washington National Cathedral.

“It’s taken us a while to get here,” said Heidi Kim, the Episcopal Church’s staff officer for racial reconciliation. While Washington National Cathedral’s foundation was laid in 1907, decades after the abolition of slavery, Kim pointed out that slaves built many Episcopal churches. Many Episcopalians owned slaves and others, northerners among them, profited by trading slaves, a story told in personal terms in the documentary, “Traces of the Trade.”

“The degree to which almost anyone in the nation who had any economic privilege benefited from slavery, in the North and the South” was considerable, said Rev. Dr. Robert W. Prichard, a professor of church history at Virginia Theological Seminary and author of “A History of the Episcopal Church.”

In 2008 the Episcopal Church apologized for its role in slavery. The apology followed a resolution passed at the General Convention in 2006 urging the church “…to address systemic racial disparities and injustice in the church and the wider culture” deepened that sensibility. Opinion on what this means and how far it should go varies among Episcopalians.

Many think the windows should stay at the cathedral as a reminder of the Episcopal Church’s past. “There’s something about taking away those windows that seems a bit of a denial of where we’ve been,” said Danielle A. Gaherty, a member and lay leader at Trinity Lime Rock in Lakeville, Connecticut.

“I don’t think they should leave the building, especially at this time when there’s so much controversy in the world over race relations,” she said. “It just seems that it’s more important now than ever to remember.”

Retired parish priest William Thomas Martin of Williamsburg, Virginia, agreed. “By getting rid of the windows we [would] throw away the memory, and if we throw away the memory, we’re going to repeat [our mistakes]. The Confederate flag is a symbol of our original sin, I think. It reminds us of our own fallibility and our need for God’s grace.”

Doug Desper, an Episcopalian in Waynesboro, Virginia, thinks the Lee-Jackson windows should leave Washington National Cathedral. Like Gaherty, Martin and Riley Temple, he felt compelled to comment on a Religious News Service article about the windows posted on the ENS website in October. “I don’t think that battle flags of any sort belong” in a house of worship, he says. More importantly, he doesn’t like “the criminal South versus the virtuous North” feeling he gets from the discussion. That trope, he contends, ignores the complexities of mid-19th century American life. He advocates a reconciliation window to replace the Lee-Jackson windows, but “I don’t think we need to keep apologizing. I think what we need to do now is to look at how far we’ve come from where our ancestors were.”

As for a continued “we’re sorry” mantra, Brown Douglas agreed that’s not the answer. “Apologies are cheap grace,” she said. “The church should be talking about repentance. You have to name the sin, then turn around and go in a different direction.”

The point that Lee and Jackson were as complex as any men, the nuances of their life stories larger than stained glass windows, Rev. Delman Coates, senior pastor at Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Maryland, said that acknowledgment isn’t enough to put him at ease about the windows, even if their context is explained. “For me as an African-American, those are symbols of a very painful, horrific past,” said Coates, who participated in the cathedral’s panel discussion “What the White Church Must Do” last July. So much so, he says, that leaving the Lee-Jackson windows as-is would “make it difficult” for him to feel fully welcome at the cathedral.

Former cathedral task force member Riley Temple wants the cathedral to beef up its efforts around the windows now. He thinks the events to date have been intellectual to a fault; that they fail to address the array of emotions at play. He wants the cathedral to address this imbalance. “No one’s thinking about our level of discomfort and the continued injury and assault of the windows,” he said. “They don’t want to make white people uncomfortable. The truth is going to make us squirm, and we can’t get to reconciliation without squirming.”

But Brown Douglas cited another essential step in this process: “Before we can talk about reconciliation, we have to talk about justice.” To that end, she said the cathedral is creating programs and forming partnerships, including one with Coates’ congregation. During Lent, Brown Douglas will run a study program on social and racial justice. And on March 29, she will participate in the cathedral’s panel “Saints and Sinners: Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.”

Mobilizing a social justice and reconciliation movement within the broader Christian church makes sense to Coates. “Racism and structural racism in America were justified theologically,” he said. “In order to make progress on a range of social justice issues, we must reclaim and reimagine our own theology.” Willie James Jennings, associate professor of systematic theology and Africana studies at Yale Divinity School, author of “The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race,” agreed. “Racism has a deep Christian architecture to it, and there’s no way to reckon with that past without coming through Christianity,” he said.

The theological and ethical journey of reckoning for Episcopal churches and others with very few African-Americans must include an honest look within. “It does come down to a denomination having a sense of its own whiteness,” he says. “They don’t understand how their Christianity and their whiteness feed each other. [As Christians] it is always important for us to show people what it means to be living in the truth.”

The strong emotions unleashed when people talk about race warrant attention – they’re important. Jennings pointed to “deep frustration about how people just refuse to honor the horror of all this.” If there’s good news on this challenging path, it’s that “the church has a vital role in helping people come to terms with what they feel, not just what they think,” he said.

Right now, feelings about the windows seem inextricably linked to a pervasive concern not about this country’s past, but about its current interpersonal and political climate.  “We’re as divided a nation as we’ve ever been. We’re as divided racially as we’ve ever been,” Brown Douglas said. By calling its Lee-Jackson windows into question, the cathedral stepped squarely into that sensitive, uneasy space.

Whatever the outcome, Coates and Jennings credit cathedral leaders and community members for calling the question on their role in memorializing and glorifying a painful past with omnipresent fingerprints. “I want to acknowledge the courage it takes to see what others refuse to see,” Jennings said. “I’m thankful that they’re doing that. It’s really important.”

In its report, the task force recommended digging into the topic as a community with forums, an “audit” of the stories the cathedral close buildings tell and with art of all kinds. Brown Douglas hopes the process will answer the questions: “What are we suggesting about who we are? But more than that, what are we saying about who God is?” She also hopes it will uncover “the voices that have gone unheard, the subjugated history.” How to incorporate those voices into the National Cathedral and just how the Lee-Jackson windows will fit into a now-evolving narrative remains to be seen.

— Heather Beasley Doyle is a freelance journalist based in Massachusetts. 


Comments (64)

  1. Ralph Davis says:

    I wonder when we will realize that you cannot erase history, you can only learn from it.

    1. Judy Schneider says:

      Agree wholeheartedly. We can only go so far in erasing history. And if we erase history, what is left to remember to guide us in the ways in which we should go.

    2. Michael Redmond says:

      Exactly. This controversy is ridiculous. I’m a Union man, 100 percent. I despise the Confederacy. Leave those windows be.

    3. Bobby Armstrong says:

      So true. Cathedral needs to take a page out of Nelson Mandela’s life.

    4. Lisa Fox says:

      I recognize that the Comfederacy is a dark period in our history. But I think that is all the more reason to leave the windows in place at at the National Cathedral. Those are teachable images.
      Besides, if we want to obliterate past images, what does that say about us?

      1. Mary Ann Fraley says:

        If we DID obliterate past images, we would begin to sound an awful lot like the former Soviet Union with their rewrites of history. We excoriated them then…

        I say we should leave the (objectionable) windows as they are and use them as teachable moments. I’m sure there are plenty of creative people around who could come up with several ways to do that.

    5. Carmen P. Figueroa says:

      So true, Amen.

    6. Allen Rawl says:

      Why not look at the symbols as something we overcame as a nation. It is our strength In the American Civil War, 600,000 people died to bring a divided nation back to one nation. It is a part of our past and should be a reminder not only to us but the rest of the world of what can happen to a nation that allows itself to be divided. “Sweeping it under the rug” won’t help anyone.

  2. Dr. William A. Flint, MDiv, PhD says:

    If we value the sacrifices of those who raised the funds to originally place these windows in the Cathedral, then we do nothing. If we think history can be erased then we are doomed to repeat it. I say celebrate the good and leave the windows as a testimony of God’s Grace toward us all. Episcopalians have a problem when it comes to understanding: “All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.”

    1. Thomas D. Orr says:

      I think that Dr. Flint’s reply is a superb one and cannot be improved upon. In this era of political correctness run amok, we are too inclined to air brush history in much the same way that Stalin did until history reads the way that that trends of the time desire. I wonder if Westminster Abbey will displace “Bloody” Mary because of her active dislike of Protestants. I doubt it! The English have a much more appreciative view of history than the Americans, and they do not feel a need to apologize for a past that cannot be changed. We can learn from the past or we can pretend to erase it. That is not possible, and all the political correctness generated will not eradicate the past.

    2. Interestingly, Robert E. Lee’s family were devout Episcopalians attending church in Alexandria, Virginia. Stonewall Jackson is portrayed as a “low church” Episcopalian. I agree with Dr. Flint that “All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.” It is better for us to remember The War Between the States as part of our imperfect history, than to try to hide the fact because of political correctness.

  3. Doug Desper says:

    I appreciated Heather reaching out to several of us. One thought not included in the article was that I object to the windows because they take a brief slice of the lives of two great Christian men and reduce them to the image of soldiers under Confederate battle flags. Battle flags and brief glimpses are no way to understand the entirety of the lives of Lee or Jackson. Having felt that the impetuous and rash acts by leaders and governments had forced a national unrest and conflict Lee worked very diligently at reconciliation both during and after that war.

  4. Ronald Davin says:

    General Robert E Lee was a distinguished member of the Episcopal Church, who fought, no so much for slavery, (he had freed his before the war as for state’s rights. His statement , at the end of that “”We must forgive our enemies. I can truly say that not a day has passed since the war began that I have not prayed for them.” as said General E Lee was truly an inspiration to us all.

  5. Mollie Williams says:

    Our history is what it is.Changing a window will not change what has happened or thepain we have caused one another. Our God is large enough to embrace it all. We need to be the same. Please leave the windows alone.

  6. Shirley E. Viall says:

    Please leave the windows alone!!! Enough political correctness has already overtaken us. We have much larger issues for the Church to consider. one would be to draw people together rather than find another reason to divide.

  7. Martha Richards says:

    Those windows are part of our history. We need to show forth love and inclusiveness to all and not always be politically correct. We can change how we act, but we cannot change history. The civil war happened, we need to remember, but not try to erase it. We need to remember that we are all God’s children and act like it.

  8. The Rev. D F Lindstrom, M.Div. J.D. says:

    The history of our Church is the story of real people who struggled with the challenges of life, culture and faith. They are and were saints and especially sinners. To attempt to scrub the Church’s history of periods, which some now see as bad, is to attempt to erase that which is part of our collective journey in faith. Do we believe in being “ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven” or do we forever want to burn those some consider heretics at the stake!

    As for Robert E. Lee, no one who has read his biography can deny that he was a great man, a gentleman, a scholar and a devout churchman.

  9. Elizabeth Dingman says:

    Please leave the windows alone so future generations can reflect on the past history of our country mistakes and all as we reflect on the entire history of mankind. We cannot erase the errors we have made, we can hopefully only learn from them and not keep repeating them. The windows are beautiful works of art such as the works in European cathedrals. Let us keep some of our treasures.

  10. Dr Joseph L. Graves Jr says:

    Recognizing that individuals or symbols do not conform with Christian values is not an attempt to erase history, nor is it “political correctness”. Removing salutes to these individuals or symbols is a recognition of our growth in the faith. Lee and Jackson were racists who upheld the institution of chattel slavery. Those who wished to memorialize them were racists as well, who in their actions reminisced for the institutions Lee and Jackson supported. Undoubtedly no African Americans participated in the decision to add these windows to the cathedral. This situation resulted from the “political correctness” of that time period which meant that persons of African descent had little or no say in secular or Episcopal Church matters.
    The analogy that I find most useful when attempting to describe to persons of European descent how harmful Confederate individuals and symbols are to persons of African descent is that of Nazi symbols to Jewish people. If the Lutheran Church in Germany had a cathedral with stained glass windows featuring individuals like Rommel or Von Ronstadt and Nazi flags, I think the world would unanimously express their outrage. Yet in the United States, Confederate generals still have statues and streets named after them. In those same states, few /no monuments stand to the Christians who fought slavery and racism (underground railroad, European- and African Americans who fought for the union from the Confederate states, e.g. 37th NC Colored Infantry). We don’t have monuments/windows for these colored troops in the Episcopal Church because many African Americans left the church because it (unlike most Protestant denominations) refused to take a stand condemning slavery. Without significant numbers of African Americans in the church, a full discussion of who and why the church should be honoring individuals from that war was never enjoined.
    Taking down these individuals and symbols is an example of restorative justice. Doing so results from a more critical examination of what it means to follow Christ, and a recognition that when it came to race, European American Episcopalians of this time period did not really understand what Christ meant when he said “love they neighbor.” Episcopalians were active at every level of racist ideology in the 19th century, including one of the chief proponents of Negro racial inferiority Samuel Morton (see Graves JL, The Emperor’s New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium, RUP, 2005). So it is not a surprise that some Episcopalians fought to maintain racism (as Lee and Jackson did).
    It is now time for the Episcopal Church to become an anti-racist organization (as described in Barndt, J. Becoming an Anti-Racist Church, Fortress Press, 2011). This is required by our faith in Christ. This begins with taking restorative actions, such as taking down racist symbols and putting up anti-racist symbols. This is not erasing history, it is replacing racist history with inclusive history. Where are our windows honoring Harriet Tubman or Frederick Douglass? Taking such actions will engender deep and faithful conversations, much more than leaving up images of hateful individuals and symbols.

    1. Jane McKinney says:

      Well said Dr. Graves

    2. Kilty Maoris says:

      Dr. Graves: You are too full of yourself. Get over it! History is the great teacher, not the synthetic history you want to see! Real history is what this represents. These are generals of their time and it is true history. Let it be. Donate for a few more windows that you want to share your revisionist theories. Certainly, they can find some place to put them and have them used as contrary history.

    3. Laura Provonche says:

      dear Dr. Graves, i would like to give you one correction. Neither Lee or Jackson believed in slavery and in fact opposed it. neither one owned slaves, in fact when his mother left him the family holdings, Lee freed all of the slaves because he strongly did not believe in slavery. Both men were devout Christians, Lee was even Episcopalian, i am not sure if Jackson was or not. i will leave you with a trivia fact about Lee. After the Civil War, Lee went to church in D.C. and when he took communion he knelt at the railing next to an African American gentleman. When church was done, he was confronted with the fact he had done that. Lee’s response was “Friend, all ground is level at the foot of the Cross” Peace of the Lord be with you and God bless.

    4. Laura Provonche says:

      I do agree with a monument or window dedicated to the African Americans who fought for this country since the Revolutionary War, especially the Civil War. That is a part of our history, too and should be acknowledged the same way.

    5. Mary Rayes says:

      It would seem that Dr. Graves does not know his history and it is he who appears to be a true racist. General Grant had slaves, so let us try to erase him from history, as well. It is all so insane and fueled by cowardliness of the face of the cultural terrorists, who jumped on the bandwagon to fulfill their agenda, using the horrible massacre in Charleston as a catalyst.

  11. Cynthia Katsarelis says:

    We have African American sisters and brothers telling us that they can’t feel welcome in the church with those windows. White people: this is a clue. The witness of our brothers and sisters NOW is what matters. If good discernment leads to the decision to remove the windows, I’m all for it. We don’t need a controversial window to remind us of our history. The past is still with us , in fact much of it isn’t even past.

  12. Rev. Alison Martin says:

    I understand that these windows may be offensive to some. These represent our history as Americans. hopefully they will represent how far we have come as a nation. They are a reminder to not forget our history and to do better.

    1. Kilty Maoris says:

      Rev.Alison Martin,
      You are so very right. Much of history is offensive. None more so than this war where brother fought against brother.
      We have risen far above those days.
      The TEC goes out of its way collectively to support people of color, people in need, people in all walks of life and color has little to do with it. Let history be history and let God be God.

  13. Len Freeman says:

    History is what it is… and if we erase it, we forget it and all the complexities of life it has to teach us of.

  14. Fr. George B. Salley, Jr. (Retired) says:

    I think the Cathedral’s Chapter should pass a resolution to take this matter up again in 50 years, and, in the meantime, leave the windows where they are. Feelings are too high to make a reasonable decision now.

  15. William Russiello says:

    These windows honor prominent men who fought to destroy the United States as a nation in order to preserve slavery. In good conscience, they should not remain in any Christian Church, and certainly not in our Church. They should be removed, but not destroyed. Readers are right when they say that history cannot be ignored. The windows should be placed in a museum (or on neutral display) somewhere accompanied by the full historical record. The museum should not be any place that would honor or commemorate the theme of these windows (like the museum of the Confederacy). It would be even better to charge a small fee or suggest donations for viewing them, and contribute the proceeds to an African American charity.

  16. Joe Parrish says:

    One image which comes to mind is Christ’s admonition to Peter and the disciples when they say they have two swords: that’s enough.
    Two windows, two swords, neither is what a perfect world would want.
    But, that’s enough.

  17. Alfred Fant says:

    Symbols have a way of taking on new meaning. The swastika is a sacred symbol in the Indian subcontinent and has holy meaning to Hindus and Buddhists. The symbol as been around for over 11,000 years, according to some experts. Yet we would not endorse putting a swastika on a stained glass window because of the recent meaning the symbol has taken on. In the same manner, the confederate flags have taken on an uglier meaning over the past several decades being used as symbols of active racism and racial hatred. I agree that they should be replaced but put in a place where the church can discuss how it reacted during the war and how it is working now to improved the unity and harmony of all of God’s people.

  18. Bob Scruggs says:

    The dialog about removing the Jackson and Lee windows is making a molehill out of a molehill. They were important figures, and helped shape the history and future of the Republic. Surely we Southerners have the right to remember our heroes, to which some of us have emotional and family ties. Depicting historical figures doesn’t have to absolve them of perceived sins. Should all of us Southerners be exterminated? My father’s family and my mother’s family owned slaves. On the other hand, I marched during the troubled times when Blacks were justifiably asserting their right to have rights. I also was involved in fundraising for some Black causes. I am white, and some of my best friends are white. However, I believe blacks and whites are all of God’s children. If Blacks do not wish to worship in the Cathedral in Washington, D.C., it is their business. It also smacks of racism and racial intolerance on their part. Leave history alone, and work for a better future for all of us humans. Nations are involved in many hostile campaigns of war, which could lead to a general war which would wipe out humanity. How important would windows be if there were no one alive to fret about making windows a moral and ethical issue?

    1. Kilty Maoris says:

      Bob Scruggs.
      Thank you for your reasonable approach to this problem. It is a molehill and we have better problems to solve in our time. Destroying the past history depictions of the US is a waste of time.
      For those who don’t wish to see these windows, there are plenty of others to see in the building that might be more acceptable. Or, is that not a problem at all but a choice made by those who themselves are racists.

  19. Rick Smith says:

    The windows should stay. Remove them WHY? Will our history or past somehow be changed? I live in Richmond VA we have statutes of Lee, Stonewall, and many other generals and before anyone asks Lincoln as well. Does that make us in the South racists? NO.
    Leave the windows and to the folks who comments are about “restorative justice” or “White people: this is a clue” Really. OK if we remove windows that have Southern Generals lets remove ALL windows with all the past Presidents, Military hero’s, frontiersmen etc that murdered to the point of genocide Native Americans. White people came to this land and stole, rapped, murdered innocent people just for land and even today make fun of and insult Native Americans (Football team names). So what’s the difference between General Lee and General Custer?
    Problem is some self-righteous people only want to see what they want to see and forget about the rest of our past. The mentalities that if we remove a window everything will be better; we “fixed” this so everything will be great except nothing will be better.
    We have some serious issues and problems in this country a handful of windows is not going to do anything except make some feel that they made a difference. Leave the windows and lets start working together to solve real issues that will make a difference, think about crime rates in Chicago and other major cities, health care, immigration, far wages, the list just keeps getting larger. You want to make a difference take on a real cause; a window is the least of our issues.

  20. David Leedy says:

    There are many horrendous and disgraceful things done in the Confederate Old South. However, if we believe that the South could not be separated from the North (that’s why we had a war), then these things were perpetrated in the United States. To excise them from the South, without excisng them from the USA is impossible.

    There are a number of good things from the Old South in addition to Bourbon and sour mash. One of these is respect and manners. While gentlemanly courtesy may be contrary to the belief of some feminist, I believe they are appreciated by most. Civility was an0ther gift from the Old South, and it certainly could be used in Washington, D.C. today. There are many more.

    I say to not be so quick to throw out the bad and then throw out the good with it.

  21. Dr Joseph Graves Jr says:

    Mr. Scruggs, I invite you to examine your phrase “all us southerners.” My family is southern too, but we were owned by persons of European descent. Historically secession only benefitted slaveholders, not persons of European descent who did not own slaves. One of the great tragedies of this war is that many of these poor folk were used as cannon fodder to buttress this immoral system. Furthermore the Confederacy implemented rules that protected the slaveholders from having to fight in the war to protect slavery. So there is no rational analysis that makes either the political or military leadership “heroes.” Furthermore after the war people like “Lee” offered silent support to terror organizations like the KKK which fought to prevent reconstruction efforts that were building a new anti-racial South. Again removing these symbols is not about “erasing” history, it is about correcting the lies of history. It is only with the truth may we be set free.

  22. The Rev. Canon E. T. Malone, Jr. says:

    It is doubtful that Lee and Jackson were any more racist than the average citizen in the United States in 1860. It was a different world, in which slavery was legal throughout the country and seemed to be supported by biblical passages. These were exemplary men in many respects, who fought not a war of aggression but in response to the military invasion of their states. The Civil War was a conflict not just over slavery but many other issues as well. These windows honor good men who were caught up in the turmoil of their times, men of integrity yet also men limited by their times, just as all of us are today. I say leave the windows as they are, as reminders of the imperfection that we all share.

  23. The Rev. Suzanne Johnston says:

    These windows serve as an important catalyst for discussions of our own acts in history (both the underlying principles as well as the creation and installation of the Windows themselves). To remove such is an act of censorship and a denial of the constitution on which this country was founded. To have open discussions on the inherent problems with their creation and installation provide for us an opportunity to learn from the past and work to do better as we greet our culturally diverse future.

  24. Sharon King says:

    I can guarantee that no person of color will look at those windows and think “How far those white folks have come.” Leaving the windows in place or not leaving the windows in place says more about where we are now as a church than all the theological arguments you can gather on the head of a pin. Do we have a window to commemorate the conveners of the Salem Witch Trials? Do we have a window to commemorate the planners of genocide of the aboriginals we drove before us as we moved west?

    Why then do we want to hold onto a window that commemorates slavery and the people who supported it? If the windows were draped in repentant purple or grieving black, I’d say leave them up. If they hurt or offend any child of God, take them down. As scripture says: If your eye offends you, pluck it out it is better to lose your eye than to be cast into the pit of hell.

  25. Freda Marie Brown says:

    I am an African-American priest, and I am appalled at the lack of compassion or consideration for other members of the Body of Christ whose experiences do not mirror those of the majority in the Church or in this country.
    The very fact that the rationalizations used in the comments I’ve seen, from keep the Windows to remember the past to the South was no worse than the North in the late 19th century simply smacks of privilege that many of us do not enjoy even today. Has it ever occurred to some of you that self-denial and the willingness to Take up the cross of Christ might actually be experienced in your willingness to HEAR someone else’s pain?

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