University scraps plans to remove religious icons from chapel

University scraps plans to remove religious icons from chapel

A public university in Ada, Oklahoma scraped its plans, at least for now, to remove religious icons and a cross from a historic chapel.

East Central University announced it is immediately withdrawing its efforts to remove religious icons from the historic Kathryn P. Boswell Memorial Chapel. The action was in response to a June 20 letter from Americans United for Separation of Church and State letter to the state university, pressuring the university to remove the symbols. 

“We moved too quickly,” said Katricia Pierson, ECU president. “We regret not taking time to pause and thoughtfully consider the request and the results of our actions on all of the students, faculty and community members who we serve.”

Pierson said initially the university removed some items to show support for all cultures and religious beliefs. The chapel is used for various religions, student clubs and events.

“This requires a more thoughtful and deliberate approach to the request,” Pierson said. “That will be our next step.”

Pierson said the university will immediately begin convening a committee of students, faculty and community members who represent a diversity of viewpoints to study the issue.

“I commend ECU for reviewing the policies, and taking the time to thoughtfully consider the impacts on everyone in the university and Ada community,” says Senator Greg McCortney.

“ECU is committed to diversity and welcomes different perspectives. This is an opportunity to have a thoughtful dialogue,” adds Pierson.  

“ECU will not take further action until the committee has had ample time to discuss and establish policies or guidelines for religious expressions in the art, history, architecture, study and areas of worship on campus.”

“Any further actions will be taken after our conversations with the committee and our valued community of students, faculty, alumni and Ada citizens,” Pierson said.

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