The “Christian” Bishop and the “Not Especially Christian” Invocation

by Jeff Emanuel on January 12, 2009

Others have broached the subject since it became news this morning, but I feel that there is always more to be said about an issue like Bishop Gene Robinson’s planned invocation at one of this weekend’s pre-inaugural events, and his email announcing how honored he was to be asked to give such a prayer.

This morning, Episcopal Café published an email from Robinson which said, in part, the following:

It will be an enormous honor to offer prayers for the country and the new president, standing on the holy ground where the “I have a dream speech” was delivered by Dr. King, surrounded by the inspiring and reconciling words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. It is also an indication of the new president’s commitment to being the President of ALL the people. I am humbled and overjoyed at this invitation, and it will be my great honor to be there representing the Episcopal Church, the people of New Hampshire, and all of us in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.”

Robinson, of course, vigorously opposed Barack Obama’s invitation to pastor Rick Warren to offer a prayer at the inauguration because, though he claims to support Obama’s “commitment to being the President of ALL the people,” he was entirely against not just any dissent to his own lifestyle and worldview being allowed a voice, but anybody who privately dissents from his own lifestyle and worldview being allowed to speak at all at the event.

The Obama inauguration is “not a roundtable discussion of a lot of different opinions,” Robinson told the Episcopal News Service, and folks who hold “views” that Robinson personally finds “pretty awful,” regardless of their conformity with God’s Word, are apparently, at least in the opinion of Bishop Robinson, not to be allowed a voice in this new administration which he praises for its claim to a willingness to allow all voices and points of view to be heard and considered.

In other words, to steal a phrase from Orwell, we’re all equal in the eyes of God and Obama; it’s just that some folks’ beliefs and politics make them more equal than others. Now that a unifying thought, isn’t it?

According to an interview with the Concord Monitor, Robinson went out of his way to prevent his invocation from being, as he put it, “especially Christian.” Apparently this Episcopalian Bishop’s first responsibility is to those who share his sexual orientation and his liberal politics, rather than to God, the Holy Scriptures, and those who, as a Bishop, he is ostensibly charged with shepherding in a manner consistent with the written and spoken will of the Christian God he claims to serve.

Unsurprisingly, the Human Rights Campaign applauded the selection of a Bishop known for making invocations about anger, deviance, and hatred of others (in this case, the preceding President). “Bishop Robinson models what prayer should be—spiritual reflection put into action for justice,” said HRC in a release.

The fact that prayer is nothing of the sort — nor should it be — is something which, of course, escapes utra-liberal identity politickers like HRC. This shouldn’t surprise us, nor should inflammatory statements and indirect claims of being above the Will and Word of God himself on the part of Bishop Robinson, who represents a portion of the Episcopalian (and Anglican) Church that has broken from the historic faith in order to adapt to modern times — and which has, as a result, seen those who wish to remain faithful breaking from them in an effort to continue pursuing that which Christianity is all about.

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