Historic Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia is trying to forget its most famous parishioner. Stephen Dinan reports:
George Washington was one of the founding members of Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, buying pew No. 5 when the church opened in 1773 and attending for more than two decades whenever he rode north from Mount Vernon to do business in town.
This weekend, the church announced it was pulling down a memorial plaque to its onetime vestryman and the country’s first president, saying he and another famous parishioner, Robert E. Lee, have become so controversial that they are chasing away would-be parishioners.
While acknowledging “friction” over the decision, the church’s leadership said both plaques, which are attached to the front 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.”
Well, there are two exceptions–George Washington and Robert E. Lee, who are no longer welcome.
As Rod Dreher observes in a column on this latest misadventure in political correctness, many might have understood the removal of the Lee plaque–but George Washington?
Calling the Washington insult a “new low in political correctness,” Dreher makes a point that occurred to me:
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.
History contains much for good and much for ill. Adults used to know this and be able to make measured judgments. But when Christ Church does something like this, it shows that we are in danger of losing our history–not to mention losing our minds.
PS. A friend of mine points out that Franklin Roosevelt took Winston Churchill to Christ Church during World War II. They sat in George Washington’s pew. This visit is also commemorated in Christ Church’s history. How long will it be before somebody realizes that Roosevelt and Churchill are dead white men and thus the memory of their visit must be eradicated!