Bishop V. Gene Robinson, whose consecration as the nation's first openly gay Episcopal Bishop in 2003 ignited furor among conservatives who recently broke away from the Anglican Communion, tells his hometown Concord (N.H.) Monitor that he won't use the Bible when he delivers the opening prayer at the inaugural kick-off event this Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial:
Robinson doesn't yet know what he'll say, but he knows he won't use a Bible.
"While that is a holy and sacred text to me, it is not for many Americans," Robinson said. "I will be careful not to be especially Christian in my prayer. This is a prayer for the whole nation."
Meanwhile, Rick Warren, who is delivering the much higher profile invocation on Inauguration Day, recently said that he will pray the only way he knows how: as a Christian (a fairly unimaginative one at that).
The presence of both Warren and Robinson has sparked discussion of whether Obama has sought to offset, as it were, having given the prime spot to the anti-gay Warren by giving another (lower profile) slot to Robinson. But there's a deeper issue at work, one that Obama likely didn't consider: Warren has not only opposed gay equality, but has also sided with the conservative breakaway Episcopalians whose anti-gay bigotry led them to split from their denomination.
Just last week, Warren announced he will provide a home to any breakaway, anti-gay Episcopal churches in California who will lose their church property as a result of the split. Last week, St. James Anglican Church of Newport Beach and two other churches lost a lawsuit against the Episcopal Church, through which they sought to retain ownership of church property despite their decision to form their own anti-gay denomination. According to Christianity Today, Warren wrote to pastors:
I’ve been on Gene Robinson and other’s attack list for my position on gay marriage. ....[Our] brothers and sisters here at St. James in Newport Beach lost their California State Supreme Court case to keep their property.
We stand in solidarity with them, and with all orthodox, evangelical Anglicans. I offer the campus of Saddleback Church to any Anglican congregation who need a place to meet, or if you want to plant a new congregation in south Orange County.
Warren, says Jim Naughton, the canon for communications and advancement of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, "is owning up to the fact that he has a relationship with people who are, by anybody's calculus, bigoted toward homosexuals." The breakaway congregations represent a small minority of Episcopalians in the United States, but they work with a global network of anti-gay churches to "keep an atmosphere of crisis boiling." Using "the guise of orthodoxy, people are laying claim to material resources," Naughton added.
By injecting himself into this intra-denominational dispute, Warren once again shows his true colors: he is intent on continuing to stoke anti-gay hysteria, and he is intent on making himself the celebrity hero to pastors and congregations who thrive on it.