Out with the cross, in with the strippers.

The formerly Christian college that sparked a national furor by removing a cross from its chapel in the interest of diversity this week packed out its auditorium with an explicit porn show.

The historic College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, whose chancellor is former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, was the scene of the Sex Workers Art Show Monday night – featuring topless dancers, demonstrations of sex toys, Q&As with male and female prostitutes – all in the name of empowering “sex workers.”

Some 400 people filled the university center’s auditorium and another 300 had to be turned away, according to a report in the Virginia Gazette.

A 200-pound-plus performer named Dirty Martini did a striptease, finishing her routine in only a G-string and pasties.

Another performer in military fatigues stripped, used a fake gun as a sex prop and told the audience that sexual favors would be given if “doing so can end the war. Just don’t force me.”

“It’s just so out there and expressive,” Josh Campbell, a member of Lamba Alliance, one of six student groups to sponsor the event, told the local paper. “It’s hip, it’s in your face, and it’s exciting.”

At least two professors objected to the show citing studies that pornography incites sexual violence. But President Gene Nichol issued a statement the next day defending it in the name of free expression.

“I don’t like this kind of show and I don’t like having it here,” he said. “But it’s not the practice and province of universities to censor or cancel performances because they are controversial.”

Most of the money for the event came out of mandatory student fees collected by the college. The Office of Student Activities helps disperse the money for campus events. The Department of Women Studies also donated $200 to help pay for the show.

“A really important aspect of this particular show is that it’s not pornography,” explained Virginia Walters, one of the organizers of the show. “People also confuse ‘sex positivity’ with sex all the time, and that’s not what this is about. It’s about making your own choices.”

Historic Wren Chapel

William & Mary made the national spotlight last fall when WND revealed that university administrator Melissa Engimann circulated an e-mail noting that the cross in Wren Chapel was going to be placed in permanent storage to make the chapel “less of a faith-specific space.”

The cross had been in the chapel for decades; the chapel has been on the campus of the second-oldest university in the U.S. for centuries. Nevertheless, Nichol ruled the cross, because of one written complaint, had to go. He later backtracked when students and alumni put together a petition with more than 10,000 signatures from those hoping to restore the cross.

Nichol e-mailed the “college community” admitting he “acted too quickly and should have consulted more broadly” in the decision to remove the cross. To make up, he dictated, a plaque would be put up in the chapel and the cross would be put on the altar for extended hours on Sunday.

O’Connor, who became chancellor of the college after retiring from the Supreme Court has repeatedly failed to return calls from WND about the cross controversy.

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