Source: The Washington Post
WILLIAMSBURG -- The cross is small, perhaps no more than 18 inches above its base, its gleaming brass surface marked only by an inscription.
But the cross, which has graced the altar table in a chapel at the College of William and Mary for decades, has come to symbolize a passionate debate about religious tolerance ever since the school's president ordered the cross removed from historic Wren Chapel.
Gene R. Nichol, who became president of the state university in July 2005, said he wanted to make the chapel welcoming to students of all faiths. So in October he ordered that the cross be stored in the chapel's sacristy unless someone asked to display it during a service.
Nichol said the campus population has become more diverse, with growing numbers of Muslims, Hindus and people of other faiths on campus, some of whom felt put off by the cross. Until his decision, students or others who used the chapel could ask to have the cross removed for weddings or other services.
"Their sense that they were being cast as outsiders -- not intentionally, of course -- that's what concerned me," Nichol said.