The politically correct push to take down historical monuments remembering people and events crucial to America’s history reached a fever pitch over the weekend as a Virginia church with ties to the Founding Fathers announced it would be removing plaques commemorating George Washington and Robert E. Lee.
As the Washington Times reported, the first president of the United States was one of the founding members of Christ Church in Alexandria, even purchasing a pew when the building opened in 1773. He was a vestryman and benefactor throughout his life, and his family even donated one his Bibles to the Episcopalian church upon his death.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee, meanwhile, began attending Christ Church at age three, when his family moved to Alexandria. His daughter, Mary Custis Lee, left $10,000 to the church when she died in 1918.
Following Lee’s death in 1870, Christ Church hung two plaques—one on each side of the altar—in honor of its famous patrons. The simple stone facades with fold lettering read “In memory of George Washington.” and “In memory of Robert Edward Lee.”
This week, the church announced that, although there is “friction” over the decision, it will be removing both memorials by next summer because they no longer fit the parish’s motto of “All are welcome—no exceptions.”
“This was not a discussion we entered into lightly, but rather a sincere attempt to have a family conversation about our worship space, our larger history and our future,” church leaders wrote in a letter to the congregation.
“The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome,” they continued. “Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques.”
Rev. Noelle York-Simmons, the church’s rector, said the idea of removing the plaques has been bandied about for years, but the conversation became more heated after the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia in August. York-Simmons said the memorials were a problem because they did not provide proper context, and she told the Washington Times in an email that a new display will be created.
“The new display location will be determined by a parish committee. That location will provide a place for our parish to offer a fuller narrative of our rich history, including the influence of these two powerful men on our church and our country,” she said. “We look forward to this opportunity to continue to learn more about our own history and find new ways to introduce it to the wider community.”
According to the Washington Post, church leaders held regular meeting sessions with members of the 1,800-person strong congregation in September to discuss the matter. York-Simmons called the conversations “heartening” and said people “responded beautifully and faithfully, listening in a lot of ways that showed our church at its best.”
Ultimately, she claims to understand the importance of not brushing off or dishonoring the the church’s history but she said it is crucial to provide proper context.
“We are deeply committed to our history, but even more we are deeply committed to the worship of Jesus Christ,” she said. “The question is, how can we reflect both?”
(H/T: Washington Times)