They're Coming Down: National Cathedral to Remove Historic Jackson-Lee Windows

They're Coming Down: National Cathedral to Remove Historic Jackson-Lee Windows
A worker illuminates stained glass windows depicting two iconic Confederate generals that are being removed at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The Washington National Cathedral announced this that the windows honoring Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson will be removed.

A favorite of tourists to D.C., construction on the National Cathedral began in 1907 and was completed in 1990. Loved for its beautiful architecture, stained glass windows, and collection of gargoyles — including one of Darth Vader — the National Cathedral is also an active Episcopal church. Moving forward, it will be minus two of its famed stained glass windows, though.

The windows will be carefully stored as the church decides on a permanent solution for them. At this time, the Cathedral is unsure what will replace the windows.

The Cathedral’s mission statement proudly affirms that it’s “a national church, dedicated to serving the country and its many faith traditions … [and it] seeks to be a catalyst for spiritual harmony in our nation, reconciliation among faiths, and compassion in the world.”

According to the announcement, soon after nine people were murdered in a racially motivated shooting at an AME church in Charleston, S.C., two years ago, “then-Dean Gary Hall called for the removal of two stained glass windows at the Cathedral that honor Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson.”

The National Cathedrals’ announcement goes on to say:

At that time, we began a process to engage this community in deep questions of racial justice, the legacy of slavery and God’s call to us in the 21st century. Over the past two years, we have heard from deeply passionate voices who have engaged with us and held us accountable to this process, and we thank them. … 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.

The announcement gives five bullet points detailing the reasoning behind this decision. Their reasoning begins:

Whatever their origins, we recognize that these windows are more than benign historical markers. For many of God’s children, they are an obstacle to worship in a sacred space; for some, these and other Confederate memorials serve as lampposts along a path that leads back to racial subjugation and oppression.” It ends with the declaration that, “The continued presence of white supremacy, anti-Semitism and other forms of hate in our nation cannot be ignored – nor will they be solved simply by removing these windows or other monuments. The racial wounds that we have seen across our nation compel us to renew our commitment to building God’s Beloved Community.

As can be guessed, the recent violence in Charlottesville spurred the National Cathedral to action. As more and more municipalities pull down statues honoring Confederates, it was only a matter of time before the National Cathedral’s stained glass windows honoring Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson came down, too.

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