Why has the Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia embraced political correctness rather than Christian forgiveness and acceptance? Historically, haven't churches traditionally been sanctuaries from political persecution? Hence, how shameful to attack the memory of an original member—and most famous attendee: the George Washington! Undoubtedly, his family's pew, No. 5, still stands in mute protest of the leadership's plan to remove two memorial plaques framing the altar of his church. Regarding their wrongheaded decision, Scripture says, “They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who [metaphorically] kills you will think they are offering a service to God” (John 16:2). Ironically, this organization publicly proclaims: “All are welcome—no exceptions”. Thus, in the name of “inclusiveness,” a Founding Father—and America's first president—will shortly be excluded.
A statement released to the congregation last week from church officials explains this highly controversial decision:
“The plaques [of Washington, and Lee] 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.”
As the cherry tree myth tells us that George Washington could not tell a lie, one wonders if this narrative would meet that standard. Apparently, the witch hunt of symbols of the Confederacy has mutated to now generally include long-dead slaveholders. Speaking of truth-telling presidents, Donald Trump predicted this outcome back on August 15, 2017:
“But, many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So this week, it is Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”
That is the essential question. Another is how can a George Washington plaque reasonably give offense? It can't. Unfortunately, zealotry has migrated from tearing down statues in parks to the interior spaces of church walls. For example, liberal “do-gooders” have doggedly pursued Robert E. Lee wherever he's referenced. As a fellow parishioner of Christ Church, Gen. Lee's plaque will also be rooted out in a similar manner as the National Cathedral's stain glass window that featured him. Ah, these poor beleaguered generals! They survived brutal American wars, but are proving no match for the revisionist fervor fouling today's air.
It's unfair to punitively apply 21st century sensibilities to great men from long gone eras. Like the rest of the human race, they're not perfect. They also don't have the benefit of hindsight. Flaws and all, their lives shaped our collective cultural heritage. Thus, their “mistakes” remain valuable because they're instructive. Indeed, the wise study, learn from, and remember history. That's precisely why it should be preserved: warts and all.
How is it not a barbaric act to destroy history, whatever the excuse? As food for thought, across the world there is another, more strident group doing a lot more than simply defacing ancient places of worship for jaded political purposes. With similar self-righteousness, they rationalize dynamiting churches, and wielding sledgehammers against priceless religious iconography. Undoubtedly, the decision-makers at Christ Church, like the rest of us, would see this as wrong. But the difference between the actions of both parties is ultimately only a matter of degree, isn't it?