Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wren Cross - Leaders of Comment

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Save the Wren Cross
Date: Mar 7, 2007 5:22 PM
Subject: Statement in Response to W&M's Announcement of new cross display policy
Please find the press statement attached and pasted below.

March 7, 2007                          Email:

Cross Returned to Wren Chapel
Leaders of Comment

WILLIAMSBURG , VA — The following is a statement of leaders of in response to yesterday's press conference at William and Mary announcing the return of the Wren Cross to Wren Chapel:

We are very thankful that the Wren Cross will be returned to permanent display in Wren Chapel.
While there remain very important issues related to the nature of the display of the cross in Wren Chapel to be addressed by the Religion Committee, we express gratitude today to a number of people who contributed to making yesterday's return of the cross possible.

First, the staffs of the two William and Mary student newspapers deserve a salute: The Flat Hat for first bringing to light the news of the cross' removal; The Virginia Informer for providing an opportunity for a thoughtful debate of the issues involved; and both for their continued coverage.

Second, we are thankful for the thousands of students, alumni, faculty, and friends of the College who signed and supported the petition that helped bring attention to this issue. Many of these signatories helped define the issues and explain the consequences of the cross' removal in letters to the editors and op-eds across Virginia .

Third, we thank the Governor and Attorney General of Virginia, who both made statements in support of returning the cross to Wren Chapel.

Fourth, we thank the Religion Committee, which deserves great credit for its leadership and swift action, in particular its two co-chairs Professors Alan Meese and Jim Livingston. Lastly, we thank members of the media who understood the importance of this issue and responsibly covered it.  
We believe that the Religion Committee has acted in tremendously good faith and with the best interests of William and Mary uppermost in their minds.   We applaud them for taking the initiative to expedite their deliberations with regard to the display of the cross. 
We are especially grateful that the unanimous judgment of William and Mary's Religion Committee to return the cross is an unambiguous repudiation of the destructive idea that William and Mary should ever tolerate intolerance towards religious symbols.
We urge the Committee to follow through on an implementation of a cross display practice that is consistent with those used by other Colonial Colleges with historic Christian chapels.

 We also urge the Committee to follow through on its original charge to examine broader questions involving the role of religion at public universities, and to solicit a wide spectrum of student, alumni, and community input. Following through on this mission is all the more important in wake of the Committee's recommendation adopted yesterday by the Board of Visitors.

 Specifically, there is still a significant amount of clarity that the Religion Committee can provide to the issues involving the display of the cross. With the removal of the cross from Wren Chapel last October, there was a theory advanced over the last several months – as late as March 1 -- about the inappropriateness of the ongoing display of a Christian cross in an historic Christian chapel. With the Committee's unanimous recommendation, this theory has clearly been repudiated.

Yet, in the 71 word recommendation by the Committee, no explanation has been advanced for why its new approach to the cross display policy has been adopted. We believe it is important to ground in sound reason and logic the rationale for departing from the previous cross display policy that had been in place for nearly 70 years.

 This is especially important since we are a university community, and since as the second oldest university in America – and one of her great liberal arts universities -- the decisions made on this campus have great significance. They must be thoughtful, made with deliberate consultation, with accountability, and above all, with respect to the traditions and heritage that make William and Mary the Alma Mater of a Nation.

G.K. Chesterton wrote, "It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time. It is trusting to a consensus of common human voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record….Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about."   When we proceed to alter traditions, a decent respect for public and College community opinion would suggest that a thorough accounting and explanation for such a departure is warranted.

The leaders of the are W&M students and alumni who had not known one another prior to the start of this effort. We resolve to remain fully engaged in the work of the Religion Committee's ongoing deliberations about the display of the cross and the more general questions about the role of religion at a public university that it will address. We resolve further to remain engaged in the future life of the College, especially in matters relating to protecting and celebrating its heritage. We also resolve to engage in efforts to ensure that William and Mary continues to be a place that is welcoming to people of all faiths, in the American tradition of religious pluralism.                                                                                                       


Del Curtis said...

Beware the hand of compromise. It has ever been a deception behind which evil continues its slow decay of good. I have been in this struggle since the early nineteen sixties and the secular humanists have slowly and insiduously marched by inches to the point of strength they currently hold. Whether the beast eats us by small bites or swallows us whole means nothing in the end. We still are destroyed and swallowed. I will continue to fight the way I know best- humbling myself, praying, seeking God's face, and turning from my wicked ways. Then will I hear from heaven, my sins forgiven, and my land healed. See II Chronicles 7:12 - 22 for the whole story. I believe that God wants to restore his sovereingty over America and that is my prayer.

Del Curtis said...

Del Curtis said...
Hey, has anyone else checked the Open Meeting Laws in Virginia. I'm not a lawyer and there have been at least three of those involved in this, but..... The way I read the statute that meeting was illegal and as it was not contained within a posted, open meeting no legal vote could have been taken on any of the "public's business". Go to Commonwealth website and put "Open Meeting Laws" into the web search box and you will get the 8 page doc on "ACCESS TO PUBLIC MEETINGS under the VIRGINIA FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT".Most assuredly Nichol's latest move is not a restoration of the previous policy and we can't allow him to get away with the "nondenominational chapel" phrase. He's a lawyer and he knows what he is saying.

Wren Chapel is consecrated Christian space and given the Episcopalian attention to liturgy and rites you can be assured the chapel was consecrated when first built and probably reconsecrated on restoration after the fires. For the chapel to be used for improper functions, i.e. irreligious or attacks on Christianity would be desecration, profanity, and/or sacrilege. I have never heard of a building being unconsecrated.

You W&M lawyer types -- Let me know if you agree on the meeting legality angle. E-mail to:

In defense of the Cross of Christ,

Anonymous said...


[Sec. 1] Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as it was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow-citizens he has a natural right; that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:

[Sec. 2] Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

[Sec. 3] And though we well know that this assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such act shall be an infringement of natural right.

Ashley said...

"tradition" is an arbitrary word for "keeping the status quo" and is not at all a reliable indicator of the moral worth of actions. an obvious example is slavery and how it was a long-standing american "tradition" until a "small and arrogant oligarchy" started rebelling against it. also, the sentences " 'it is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time. it is trusting to a consensus of common voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record. ... Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.' " don't make any sense. you could make the first sentence mean anything you want by inserting any word in the place of "democracy." you could put "tyranny" or, in the case of russia, "putin" or "the present" or "decorations" and it would make an equal amount of sense. The "small and arrogant oligarchy" could also be aptly applied to the situation of the Board members today. Basically, you like this paragraph because you could make it mean whatever you want it to mean. i could apply it to gene nichol and demand that a "thorough accounting and explanation for such a departure is warranted."