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CULTURE DIGEST: College of W&M cross returns (sort of); fame & fortune corrupt again; leaders’ immorality a plague…

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The 2-foot-high brass cross at the center of a months-old controversy at the College of William and Mary will be permanently on display in a glass case in historic Wren Chapel as a compromise between the school’s president and his critics.

“The case shall be located in a prominent, readily visible place, accompanied by a plaque explaining the college’s Anglican roots and its historic connection to Bruton Parish Church [a local Episcopal congregation],” a committee appointed to study the matter recommended March 6. “The Wren sacristy shall be available to house sacred objects of any religious tradition for use in worship and devotion by members of the college community.”

A donor had withdrawn a pledge valued at between $10 million and $12 million to the nation’s second-oldest college because of the president’s decision last October to remove the cross from the chapel.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported March 1 that James W. McGlothlin, a former member of William & Mary’s board of visitors, revoked his pledge in protest of what he called an “unbelievable” move by college President Gene R. Nichol.

A spokesman for the college told the Times-Dispatch he was not yet aware whether the pledge would be reinstated in light of the compromise.

Wren Chapel opened in 1732 and was used for mandatory morning and evening daily prayer on the Williamsburg, Va., campus at the time. But Nichol determined that the presence of the cross made some students, faculty and staff who do not support Christianity feel unwelcome in the chapel for the building’s modern uses.

Nichol ordered the cross, which was installed in 1940, removed, and in December he agreed to let it appear each Sunday in response to outcries from alumni and others who support the school’s Christian heritage.

After news of the withdrawn pledge surfaced, Nichol wrote an editorial piece for the Times-Dispatch March 1. He said he would not back down, lest the college lose prospective students to more secular institutions.

“Is it acceptable, as an aspiring public university, to open our doors less fully to some because of their religious affiliations? As strongly as we value our own beliefs, will we make others less welcome because of their own?” Nichol wrote.

More than 17,500 people signed an online petition organized by the group “Save the Wren Cross” asking Nichol to reverse his cross removal order, compared to just 2,000 who supported the removal of the cross.

The Times-Dispatch reported that the study committee would continue meeting to consider the broader question of the role of religion at William and Mary.

FAME & FORTUNE CORRUPT AGAIN — Pacman Jones, star cornerback for the Tennessee Titans, is under review by the NFL’s personal conduct policy after at least 10 incidents involving police since he became the team’s top draft pick in 2005. His latest two episodes include a triple shooting at a Las Vegas strip club and felony charges of obstructing police during a drug bust in Georgia.

And Jones is accomplishing all of this before his 24th birthday.

“I have told him about trying to be in the right place at the right time so much instead of always being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it kind of goes on deaf ears.”
Pacman Jones’ uncle,
Robert Jones
“Pacman just draws attention to himself with the way he carries himself,” his uncle, Robert Jones, told The Tennessean newspaper Feb. 28. “He goes into clubs with six cats that call themselves ‘security.’ Well, what kind of attention do you think that’s going to get? He doesn’t need all that…. They know he’s there, but he has all these cats surrounding him like he’s the Buddha or somebody.

“And a lot of people around him don’t have his best interest at heart,” Jones added. “I tell him, just like I’m telling you, but he’ll leave me or go on out the room when I am talking to him. He knows right and wrong. I guarantee you that. But he just thinks the dollar bill can get you out of everything.”

Pacman Jones joins an extensive list of young athletes in the United States who were lauded with fame and fortune before their maturity level could handle the demands. Now his grandmother hopes he’ll just make it to age 26, which is something his father didn’t do before he was shot in the back of the head and killed.

“I have told him about trying to be in the right place at the right time so much instead of always being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it kind of goes on deaf ears,” Robert Jones said. “… I understand he is young and all, but sometimes he has to take into consideration the places he’s at and the things he’s doing.”

MORAL FAILURES PLAGUE PUBLIC LEADERSHIP — Recent reports of moral failures among people in positions of leadership signal a continuing trend of corruption in American culture.

City commissioners in Largo, Fla., voted 5-2 Feb. 27 to begin the process of firing city manager Steve Stanton after he announced plans to pursue a sex change operation. Stanton, 48, confirmed that he is a transsexual and is receiving hormone therapy in preparation for the surgery, according to The New York Times.

As he undergoes a “gender reassignment” to become “Susan Stanton,” he is forcing his wife and 13-year-old son to come to terms with where they will fit in his new life.

Commissioner Andy Guyette told The Times he voted to fire Stanton because he fears that since the city manager supervises about 1,200 employees he could not lead the city without favoring his supporters. Commissioner Mary G. Black agreed that Stanton’s personal behavior was bound to affect his job.

“I do not feel he has the integrity, nor the trust, nor the respect, nor the confidence to continue as the city manager,” Black told the Associated Press.

News also broke recently of the controversial personal practices of leading financial advisor Suze Orman, whose latest book is “Women and Money.” In an interview with The New York Times Feb. 25, Orman announced that she has been in a homosexual relationship with a woman named Kathy Travis.

“We’re going on seven years,” Orman, a frequent columnist in Oprah’s magazine and host of a CNBC television show, said. “I have never been with a man in my whole life. I’m still a 55-year-old virgin.”

While the idea is up for debate, the assertion that she is a “55-year-old virgin” made headlines. When asked if she would like to marry her partner, Orman was clear.

“Yes. Absolutely,” she said. “Both of us have millions of dollars in our name. It’s killing me that upon my death, K.T. is going to lose 50 percent of everything I have to estate taxes. Or vice versa.”

A third example of the continued moral unraveling of society is a Feb. 24 report by The Washington Times that said federal authorities charged the former president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia with receiving and possessing child pornography.

Conservatives typically don’t hold the ACLU as a bastion of morality, but the fact that Charles Rust-Tierney, 51, of Arlington served as a leader of youth sports organizations in Virginia adds to the problem. Rust-Tierney reportedly had subscribed to various child pornography websites over the past several years and had downloaded videos and photos.

On behalf of the ACLU, Rust-Tierney was a leading proponent in the late 1990s for unrestricted Internet access, The Times noted. He argued that parents should bear the responsibility for guarding their children against online dangers.


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  • Erin Roach