Cross debate costs College of William and Mary $12 million donation

WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia (AP) — A longtime donor to the College of William and Mary is withholding a $12 million pledge because of the decision to remove a cross from a campus chapel, the school said.

The donor, who was not identified, changed his mind after school President Gene Nichol decided in October that the cross should be stored in a sacristy to make the chapel welcoming to students of all faiths, Nichol spokesman Mike Connolly said.

The loss of the funds “represents a serious setback to the college,” Nichol wrote in an e-mailed statement Tuesday. “While I know it is intended to make a policy statement, ultimately it only hurts our students.”

Advocates of keeping the cross in Wren Chapel pointed to the school’s founding 300 years ago as an institution of the Anglican Church. The cross, they argued, should be displayed not only as a symbol of faith but as an acknowledgment of history and tradition.

Nichol’s supporters say the school, which has been public since 1906, is obligated to make people of different faiths feel comfortable.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday March 1, 2007.
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