Fox News reports that a historic church — the one that George Washington himself once attended — has made that decision that it no longer wishes to honor the first President of the United States. The historic plaque implemented to honor the first president, says the church, will be removed.
Christ Church is located in Alexandria, Virginia. The plaque is located in the pew where Washington and his family used to regularly sit as fellow worshipers. But the plaque has made some members of the church feel "unsafe" because the first president was a slave-owner. Apparently, having a plaque in the pew to honor the first president of the United States makes visitors feel "unsafe" and "unwelcome," which is the reason that leaders say they will be removing it.
An open letter penned by church leaders reads, "Hebrews 13:2 says, 'Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.' Christ Church lives into this call, feeding the hungry with our Lazarus ministry, welcoming the stranger in our refugee ministry, and inviting all to worship with us. 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."
Another plaque in honor of Confederate General Robert E. Lee will also be taken down. It is quite clear that the plaques, at least in the eyes of this particular church community, represent the same thing. Both the first president of the United States and the first president of the Confederacy both represent one thing — a past darkened by the institution of slavery.
The letter continues, "We understand that both Washington and Lee lived in times much different than our own and that each man, in addition to his public persona, was a complicated human being, and like all of us, a child of God. Today, the legacy of slavery and of the Confederacy is understood differently than it was in 1870. For some, Lee symbolizes the attempt to overthrow the Union and to preserve slavery. Today our country is trying once again to come to grips with the history of slavery and the subsequent disenfranchisement of people of color."
Robert E. Lee's ancestor, who is also a pastor, recently had to stop down after he implicitly bashed his grandfather and expressed his controversial opinions about racial justice. According to Fox News, the North Carolina pastor had to step down after his congregation expressed outrage at a racial justice comment he made last month.
“My name is Robert Lee IV, I’m a descendant of Robert E. Lee, the Civil War general whose statue was at the center of violence in Charlottesville," he remarked. "We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism, and hate. As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin."
He continued, "Today, I call on all of us with privilege and power to answer God’s call to confront racism and white supremacy head-on. We can find inspiration in the Black Lives Matter movement, the women who marched in the Women’s March in January, and, especially, Heather Heyer, who died fighting for her beliefs in Charlottesville.”
The decision comes in the aftermath of the controversy over whether statues should honor Civil War figures. The debate broke out against over the summer after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. This was the “Unite the Rite” rally located in Virginia, where a group of white supremacists, white nationalist, and Neo-Nazis gathered to protest the government removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.
This rally quickly turned violent after a man drove his car into a crowd, killing a counter-protester and injuring at least 19.
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