One of the nation’s oldest public institutions of higher education is roiled in dispute over a display of a bronze cross in a campus building.
Last fall, College of William and Mary President Gene Nichol ordered that the cross, which has been displayed at the Wren Chapel since 1940, be removed and used only for “appropriate religious services.”
The action sparked heated debate among students, faculty and alumni at the Williamsburg, Va., college. A handful of alumni lashed out at the president and said they would stop contributing to the college, The Washington Times reported.
The controversy prompted Nichol to allow the cross to be returned to the chapel’s altar every Sunday and then announce that a committee had been formed to study the situation.
The cross flap, also caught the attention of televangelist Pat Robertson. Robertson blasted Nichol’s nod to diversity during one of his “700 Club” broadcasts.
“A cross is offensive? Tough luck,” groused Robertson. “Why do we want to eliminate the Christian heritage? It’s the source of our strength.”
In his initial order to remove the cross, Nichol said that the Christian symbol sent “a message that the Chapel belongs more fully to some of us than to others. That there are, at the College, insiders and outsiders.”