Cathedral to Remove Glass Confederate Flags

By Banks, Adelle M. | The Christian Century, July 6, 2016 | Go to article overview

Cathedral to Remove Glass Confederate Flags


Banks, Adelle M., The Christian Century


The Washington National Cathedral will replace depictions of the Confederate flag in its stained-glass windows with plain glass but maintain adjoining panes honoring Confederate generals for at least two years while it fosters discussions about the church and race relations.

A task force spent six months determining what to do with the two windows after former cathedral dean Gary Hall, responding to the murders at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, declared, "It is time to take those windows out."

The man charged with the crime embraced the Confederate flag.

The cathedral's board concluded that the windows should remain up for now, minus the Confederate flag panes, and serve as a stimulus for discussions, including one scheduled for July 17 titled "What the White Church Must Do."

"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," the task force stated in its report. "Moreover, the windows serve as a profound witness to the cathedral's own complex history in relationship to race."

In the letter announcing the decision in June, cathedral board members acknowledged that there are intense feelings about the best way to handle the controversial windows.

"We have heard from those who feel strongly that the windows should stay intact as uncomfortable reminders of our shared history, others who believe that the windows should be removed entirely, and some who feel that the windows are appropriate monuments to admirable American leaders," they said.

Asked if removing the panels featuring the flag but keeping the depictions of the Confederate generals was a compromise, Kevin Eckstrom, the cathedral's chief communications officer, said, "The windows have prompted the questions and now we hope they're going to be part of the discussion that helps us get to the answers."

The cathedral is determining the timing and the cost of removing the windows. …

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