In Williamsburg, VA on Wednesday, College of William and Mary officials admitted that their decision last fall to remove a brass cross from Wren Chapel has cost the institution a $12 million donation from a "longtime donor." The cross had stood in the chapel for 75 years without controversy.
Gene R. Nichol, president of the public institution in Williamsburg, Virginia, announced in October that the cross should be stored to make people of other faiths more comfortable using the chapel. The decision ignited controversy among alumni, students and others across the nation. Liberty Counsel sent a letter to President Nichol and Chancellor (former U.S. Supreme Court Justice) Sandra Day O'Connor, explaining that the message the college sent by removing the cross was not of inclusiveness and tolerance, but of intolerance and hostility.
In December, Nichol announced that the cross would be returned to the chapel on Sundays, during Christian religious services, or when requested by a visitor. Although this was a step in the right direction, college officials underestimated the fallout from their failure to return to the traditional display of the Wren Chapel cross. Perhaps they are beginning to understand that they should have left the cross undisturbed.
While common sense and a legal opinion did not convince President Nichol to return the cross to its previous display, maybe losing 12 million dollars will. The loss of confidence in President Nichol by alumni and donors can only be restored if he apologizes for his actions and returns the cross to its rightful position, where it has stood for the last 75 years.