Monday, January 12, 2009


The first openly gay Episcopal bishop will offer a prayer at the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural event for President-elect Barack Obama.

The selection of New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson for Sunday's event follows weeks of criticism from gay-rights groups over Obama's decision to have the Rev. Rick Warren give the invocation at his Jan. 20 inauguration.

Warren backed the ban on same-sex marriage that passed in his home state of California on the November ballot.

[Please see here for the full article.]

Bishop Robinson is quoted as saying that "he doesn't believe Obama invited him in response to the Warren criticism but said his inclusion won't go unnoticed by the gay and lesbian community."

I can't definitively assess this statement one way or the other, but it is instructive to see that after so much revulsion that was expressed by LGBT people and allies at the Rick Warren invitation to the inaugural event, that Obama then saw fit to add Bishop Robinson to be part of his inauguration.

The more that ignorant and/or hateful professing Christian homophobes are confronted for their distortions and downright lies about the lives of LGBT people, and their mean-spirited attempts to deprive Gay people of the same civil rights that they, themselves, enjoy; who seek to impose their warped understandings of "Christianity" onto others and the society at large, the more likely it will be that they will soon lose their undeserved credibility. Then, Christianity will once again be seen as, to use C.S. Lewis' phrase, "a reasonable faith" that won't be as likely to offend decent, intelligent, and sensitive human beings which, all too often, has not been the case.

No Christian, clergy or not, seeks to deprive others of civil rights; spreads misinformation and lies about others; in any way condemns others; in any way seeks to impose their own reactionary understandings of the Bible onto others; in any way seeks to identify and justify their own preconceived prejudices with the Gospel of grace and love.

And all Christians, and all other decent people, must expose these wolves in sheep's clothing for the ignorant and/or hateful people that they are, so that even a "liberal" like Obama never has any conceivable excuse to elevate any clergy to prominence who preach the false gospel of legalism, perfectionism, and exclusion as he did with Rick Warren.
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As I said when I emailed you privately, no one can seriously believe that Barack Obama intended to have Gene Robinson participate in his inaugural events. The invitation was offered for no other reason than the ongoing criticism Obama suffered for tapping Rick Warren as invocation pastor.

I fear the criticism will die away now, and that shouldn't happen. Gene Robinson's inclusion (at an event leading up to the inaugural, not the inaugural itself) is meant to somehow "balance" Warren ideologically, but there's no way a reasonable man and a hatemonger can balance each other! Not to mention the fact that they'll be appearing at different ceremonies held days apart!

I hope Bishop Robinson uses this opportunity to speak out on behalf of LGBT equality, and to stress that Christianity isn't religion for bigots. Many of Barack Obama's "Bible believing" supporters don't understand this. If Robinson acts like Joseph Lowery and so many others involved in Obama's installment, reveling in its historic nature and sponging off the glory and fanfare of the moment, then he will have wasted his opportunity.

The troubling issues that Rick Warren's high-profile participation raises are far more important than celebrating "the first Black President." An event that should represent a triumph for the Civil Rights movement has been tarnished because of the President-Elect's disregard for Civil Rights. What a mockery of Martin Luther King's vision of equality for all . . . that's the brutal truth of the matter, regardless of who doesn't want to hear it!

Jerry Maneker said...

Beautifully put, and this message must be heard, and taken to heart, by all those who really care about equal rights for LGBT people! In essence, Obama consigned Robinson to the back of the bus, and had to be pressured into doing even that.

This consignment does not bode well for Obama's being trusted to really do something tangible for LGBT equality, and unless there is meaningful activism, there is little warrant to assume that he will fight for that equality.



Things are getting stranger and stranger. Rick Warren is giving sermons where he likens his own followers to Hitler youth, while Gene Robinson is telling the press that he won't be giving a Christian prayer at the pre-inaugural concert. What other kind of prayer is he qualified to give, and why would he want to give it? Methinks both of these fellows may be a couple of bricks short of a load . . . Obama may end up with a double public relations nightmare on his hands! Well, it would serve him right.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Don Charles: It seems to me that both are playing to their audience. Warren to professing Christians who are legalists who remarkably see no contradiction between discrimination against others and being a "Christian"; Robinson who doesn't want to offend anybody, not realizing that the Gospel does cause offense to those who lack God's love in their hearts.

To the degree that Robinson seeks to be "inoffensive," he is being offensive to this unique opportunity he has to let the American public know the damage being done to LGBT people and their families; the damage being done to LGBT people "in God's name"; the odious role of most of the institutional Church in fomenting and "religiously" justifying hatred and oppression of LGBT people; the danger most of the institutional Church currently poses to the level of decency and civility in our society.

If Robinson doesn't come through with the loud and clear message that all professing Christians, and all who consider themselves to be decent people, have to embrace civil rights for everyone, and that all who profess to be Christians must act like Christians, he deserves to lose the credibility he has hitherto enjoyed by many Gay rights activists.


And Jerry, if he gives something other than a Christian prayer at that pre-inaugural concert, he deserves to be defrocked as an Episcopal bishop. That's my personal opinion.

Jerry Maneker said...

He said that he wasn't going to even bring Christianity into his prayer, as he wants to appeal to all people, as I understand it. If that is the case, he will have committed an offense against Christ, and pass up on the unique opportunity to inform people that Christians don't discriminate against, defame, or condemn anyone. And if any professing Christian does these things, he or she is not a Christian!

If he fails to do that, he has abdicated his credibility, but won't be defrocked, as there are far many more dangerous clergy out there than him who still articulate their prejudices "in the name of God," of course, from pulpits across the world.

But it would be wise for him to remember what Jesus says: "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38)