National Cathedral Now Features BLM-Themed Stained Glass Windows 

Orhan Cam /
Orhan Cam /

Visitors to the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. will come face to face with BLM protestors, who will be staring judgmentally at worshippers throughout the services. On Saturday, the Cathedral unveiled four new stained-glass window panels titled “Now and Forever,” featuring scenes of “contemporary demonstrators advocating for racial justice.” The scenes depict a march with signs reading “Fairness” and “No Foul Play,” serving as symbols of change and progress. 

In 2015, discussions about replacing the windows were triggered by former Dean Gary Hall’s call to remove them following the horrific massacre of nine Black churchgoers by a White supremacist in South Carolina. The previous stained-glass windows within the main worship space of the Washington National Cathedral featured Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, installed in 1953 with hopes of fostering reconciliation between North and South.  

In 2017, a decision was made to remove these windows and in 2020, following the death of George Floyd, the Lee and Jackson windows were deconsecrated, removed, and temporarily loaned to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.  

Artist Kerry James Marshall, known for his representations of Black Lives Matter themes, expressed the significance of these windows as representations of things that need to be “repaired.”  He says that the windows align with the Cathedral’s mission to “remind us that we can be better, and do better than we did yesterday, today.” 

The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, current dean of the Cathedral, stated during the dedication ceremony that the old stained glass windows were offensive and acted as a barrier to the Cathedral’s mission to be an inclusive house of prayer for all. He states that the older windows told a false narrative, praising two military leaders who fought to keep the institution of slavery alive. According to Hollerith, the windows supported the Confederacy while ignoring Black Americans. 

The new windows, Hollerith said, lift the “values of justice and fairness” along with the “ongoing struggle for equality” for Black Americans. 

Marshall, whose works can rake in millions of dollars and have been featured on the walls of national galleries and celebrities’ mansions, was paid $18.65 to symbolize 1865, the year the nation’s last enslaved African Americans were freed.   

“It’s a full payment that I can accept as a completely free individual, able to make decisions about myself and the things I do and who I do it for,” Marshall said. “I’m completely free. And that’s what the end of the Civil War represents on a lot of levels.” 

On the surface, it is an innocent and well-intentioned endeavor. But using the National Cathedral as a showcase for Black Lives Matter protestors is problematic. 

Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests have witnessed uncounted episodes of violence, including clashes with law enforcement, property damage, looting, assaults, and death. 

The true nature of the BLM movement became evident after the tragic death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Throughout the summer of chaos and anarchy, Attorney General William Barr observed that many protesters in Washington, DC, had engaged in violence, with 114 police officers injured nationwide. Those riots resulted in numerous instances of both police and civilians losing their lives, and millions of dollars in damages were incurred. 

In St. Louis, a seventy-seven-year-old retired African-American police chief, who attempted to intervene in a looting situation following a protest, was fatally attacked. There were numerous incidents of police being struck by vehicles, shot, and stabbed.  

In Washington, the historic Church of Presidents was set on fire, and a Gandhi statue was vandalized. Near Minneapolis, St. Paul police reported protesters transporting explosives using stolen cars with removed license plates, fleeing on foot when stopped. 

But the damage and chaos weren’t just on American soil. Across the pond in London, during the first weekend in June, twenty-two police officers were injured, including a policewoman whose horse was startled by aggressive crowds. Some individuals even threw bicycles at mounted police officers and their horses, while a statue of Winston Churchill was defaced with the words, “Churchill is a racist.” 

This, then, is the group that the National Cathedral has chosen to support with new stained glass windows. The association with the BLM movement and its involvement in violent incidents should raise concerns among those who visit the Cathedral and attend services there. The Cathedral is not just a church; it also plays host to tourists and has a central role in presidential funerals and inaugurations as well as other national ceremonies. 

These “Now and Forever” windows are not just an affront to an entire congregation; they are an insult to a nation and the Christian values that it was founded on.