WASHINGTON — The nationwide backlash against Confederate symbols continued as the National Cathedral became the most recent institution to announce its intent to remove imagery related to the secessionist states. The Confederate flag is featured prominently in pictures apparently posted by Dylann Roof in online writings laced with racial hatred. Roof has been charged with murdering nine people at a Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17.
In his sermon on Sunday, the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the National Cathedral, announced that he would call on the venerable church’s governing body to remove two stained-glass windows put in place to honor “the lives and legacies of Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.”
The windows were installed in 1953 at the request of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and are two of many stained-glass bays on the cathedral’s main level.
Hall said the National Cathedral had installed these windows to “foster reconciliation” between the North and the South. But they did more than simply seek to repair a divided nation, he said.
They sought to “reframe the Civil War and present these two generals as saintly, exemplary Christians” when these two men were in fact ardent supporters of Hall called an “unjust cause … the sin of slavery.”
“We can live with some contradictions until we can’t,” Hall said.
Hall said the cathedral should serve as a “house of prayer for all people,” but insisted that this goal cannot be met “while the Confederate battle flag shines in our windows.”
Citing the church’s national prominence, he called on the cathedral to be a leader for national faith organizations, saying “there simply is no excuse for the nation’s most visible church to display a symbol of racism, slavery and oppression. None.”
Hall emphasized that changing the windows will take time, but a display “explaining them in their historical context” will be placed near their bay while the cathedral directors seek to install a replacement that will “tell the full, yet painful, yet hopeful story of race and justice in America.”