Washington National Cathedral was founded in 1907 and envisioned as a “Westminster Abbey for America,” which, in part, is why it finds itself at the center of controversy about its role in President-elect Donald J. Trump’s impending inauguration.
For more than a century, the cathedral has tried to stand in two worlds at once, attempting to be both a practicing Christian church and a gathering place for American civic expression. As the cathedral’s former dean, I believe that fidelity to the former role now requires rejecting the latter.
For much of its life, the cathedral experienced the tension inherent in playing two roles as creative but not potentially destructive.
But much has changed in American religious life over the past 110 years, and the cathedral has found it increasingly difficult to have it both ways.
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