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Saturday, December 23, 2006

William & Mary's Leadership Debacle

In October, the President of the College of William & Mary, Gene Nichol, ordered that a cross be removed from the chapel in the historic Wren building stating that because many different faiths are represented at the college, he will not favor one over another. After the explosive response from alumni and friends of the college, he compromised by suggesting that a plaque stating the religious nature of the college’s founding replace the chapel’s cross. Now both people who agreed and disagreed with Nichol’s original decision are unhappy.

Several months ago, Nichol also demonstrated a similar lack of courage and moral clarity when he refused to appeal the NCAA’s ruling that the College’s logo, featuring two feathers, was discriminatory against ethnic Indians. Though his public statement disagreed with the NCAA’s ruling, it is curious that now he is using the NCAA’s logic to guarantee the “constitutional freedom” from being offended by a cross that sits in a small room on a rather large campus.

Here are the two problems with the cross debacle. First, it is now apparent that Nichol doesn’t understand principled decision-making in a culture that is dependent upon tradition and prides itself in its history. His lack of leadership on these critical issues is reminiscent of the Clintonian 'finger in the wind'; see where the public’s opinion is and go there.

Second, by deciding that the cross must come down, Nichol has replaced the moral authority Jesus Christ with his own. Where will students considering suicide turn to find meaning and purpose in their life? Upon what authority is lying, cheating, and stealing wrong, if not the teachings of Christ? If symbols of moral authority can be relegated to a closet and pulled out when it’s convenient, why shouldn’t sexual assaults and alcohol abuse become more prevalent on campus?

The continuation of our civilization depends upon the mutual goodwill of our neighbors. The only way to instill this goodwill in our culture is through the teachings of Jesus. “Do unto other as you would have them do unto you.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you.” What does Nichols offer in the place of these teachings? Tragically, students will be left without principled and moral leadership.

The greatest threat to America is not terrorism; it is that we forget who we are, the gift our forefathers have given us, and decide it's not worth the fight. In this decision, Nichol misses the mark on both points and I am pleased to call for his resignation. Gene Nichol has not demonstrated the necessary leadership abilities needed to guide the next generation's leaders during these most tumultuous times.

More information at SavetheWrenCross.org
HT: Reformed Chicks Blabbing

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