This week the church announced it was pulling down a memorial to its one-time vestryman and the country’s first president, saying he and another famous parishioner, Robert E. Lee, have become too controversial and are chasing away would-be parishioners.
While acknowledging “friction” over the decision, the church’s leadership said the twin memorials, which are attached to the wall on either side of the altar, are relics of another era and have no business in a church that proclaims its motto as “All are welcome — no exceptions.”
“The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome. 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,” the church leaders said.
As an original benefactor, Washington bought pew No. 5 when the church opened in 1773. He was a vestryman and contributed to the church throughout his life, according to the Washington Papers project. His family considered the church important enough to him that it donated one of his Bibles after his death.
Meanwhile Lee attended Christ Church beginning at age 3, when he moved from Stratford to Alexandria. The church was so integral to his family that Mary Custis Lee, his daughter, left the church $10,000 in her will upon her death in 1918. That money was used to begin the church’s endowment.
Of course this has nothing at all to do with “chasing away would-be parishioners.” I find it very hard to believe that, as the letter states, “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.” Find five people who did this. I dare you.
What this is about is about the lacerating self-hatred of liberal white elites. I could see a case for taking down the Lee plaque, though I would still call it an act of stunning and despicable ingratitude for a former parishioner and a family who gave much to that congregation. But Washington? Seriously, George Washington?!
The church is on North Washington Street. Is the congregation embarrassed by that too? Then move.
Christ Church is ashamed of George Washington, but the shame is entirely theirs.
You watch: within a decade, they’ll affix a statue of Ta-Nehisi Coates atop the altar. I hope I live long enough to see that entire historic church building turned into condos.