WASHINGTON - Prodded by violence in Charlottesville, Va., the Washington National Cathedral will remove two stained-glass windows depicting Confederate generals, saying the displays "do not reflect our values."
Cathedral Dean Randy Hollerith, Cathedral Chapter Chair John Donoghue and Bishop Marianne Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, announced that the Cathedral Chapter voted to immediately remove the windows on Tuesday.
"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," the Wednesday letter said. "Their association with racial oppression, human subjugation and white supremacy does not belong in the sacred fabric of this Cathedral."
The depictions of Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, installed in 1953, will be removed and stored until the cathedral can find another use for them, perhaps for educational purposes. The spaces will be covered until the diocese determines what will go in their place.
The cathedral serves the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, which covers Washington, D.C., and parts of Maryland. The cathedral often is the site of presidential funerals. Services for presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford were held there.
The decision came after years of "considerable prayer and deliberation," starting after a church shooting in Charleston, S.C., the letter said. Since then, the diocese has hosted conversations on the topic over whether the windows were appropriate.
The events in Charlottesville "brought urgency" to the process, the letter said. There, white supremacists clashed with counter protesters and a car crashed into a crowd, leaving one person died and others injured.
"We have concluded that these windows tell an incomplete and misleading account of our history," the letter said. "We want to be clear that we are not attempting to remove history, but rather are removing two windows from the sacred fabric of the Cathedral that do not reflect our values."
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