The Washington National Cathedral announced Wednesday that it would remove two stained-glass windows depicting Confederate generals.
After a two-year debate, leaders at the Episcopal Cathedral voted Tuesday night to remove the two windows honoring Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, claiming that memorializing them is “a barrier to our important work on racial justice and racial reconciliation,” the Washington Times reported.
“Whatever their origins, we recognize that these windows are more than benign historical markers. For many of God’s children, they are an obstacle to worship in a sacred space; for some, these and other Confederate memorials serve as lampposts along a path that leads back to racial subjugation and oppression,” the Cathedral said in a statement.
Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, the head of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; Washington National Cathedral Dean Randolph Marshall Hollerith; and John Donoghue, chairman of the Cathedral Chapter all signed the statement.
Cathedral spokesman Kevin Eckstrom told the Washington Post that many leaders felt it was necessary to remove the windows because they depicted the Confederate generals as pious Christians.
“The problem is that they are shown as saints,” he said.
Cathedral leaders had been debating over whether to remove the windows since 2015 when the dean of the Cathedral at the time called for the church to remove the windows depicting Civil War figures. The windows had been installed in 1953.
The decision to remove the windows comes as Democratic activists pressure state and local governments to remove Confederate statues and monuments in public and private spaces following the violence that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month.
Cathedral leaders admitted in their statement that the events that took place in Charlottesville swayed their decision to act sooner.
The Cathedral has been a hotbed for progressive activism over the past few years. Former Cathedral Dean Gary Hall allowed a Muslim event to be held in the church on the 100-year anniversary of when the last Caliph declared war on non-believers in 2014.
He also held an anti-gun vigil on the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, stating that “the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby.” Hall also spearheaded the “Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend” at the church to call for more gun control.