I’ve reported frequently on the controversy at the College of William & Mary over president Gene Nichol’s decision to remove the cross from display at the historic Wren Chapel. Nichol made this decision without consulting anyone based on bogus claims that the existence of a cross in a chapel is offensive to others. In reality, it was offensive, essentially, only to Nichol’s sensibilities as an ACLU activist.
In response to strong protests, Nichol appointed a committee but, as I understand it, the purpose of the committee was to study issues regarding the role of religion in public universities, or some such high-minded topic, not to review his decision regarding the cross. However, the college’s board of visitors, feeling the heat of lost donations, asked the committee for a recommendation regarding the Wren cross.
The committee has now supplied one, and President Nichol and the board of visitors have accepted it. The committee recommended unanimously that the cross be put on permanent display at the chapel, but that it be put behind a glass case The case will be in a “prominent, readily visible place” with “a plaque explaining the college’s anglican roots” and connection to the Bruton parish church. Moreover, “the Wren sacistry shall be available to house sacred objects on any religious tradition for use in worship and devlotion by members of the college community.”
This controversy was a wound inflicted by a zealot president who thinks it’s okay to have sex worker shows on campus, but unacceptably offensive to display a cross in a chapel. William & Mary really needed to resolve this dispute and move on. Perhaps this compromise, some details of which are not clear to me, will accomplish these objectives. Stay tuned.
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