12 January 2009

+Robinson to lead nation at prayer - kinda-sorta, well, maybe

Mr. Obama has asked The Right Rev'd V. Gene Robinson to offer the first prayer of the Inaugural Week. Bishop Robinson has released the following statement:
I am writing to tell you that President-Elect Obama and the Inaugural Committee have invited me to give the invocation at the opening event of the Inaugural Week activities, “We are One,” to be held at the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, January 18, at 2:00 pm.

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.

The sad fact is that few people will have any clue that the Inaugural Week has begun - in fact, few people are aware that there is an Inaugural Week. But, the entire world will be watching on Inauguration day when a bible thumping homophobic bigot will purport to represent every American that opening prayer.

UPDATE: Episcopal Cafe is now reporting the story and posed the question I asked when I learned this news a few days ago.

There will undoubtedly be some controversy over whether Gene was invited as a response to the intense criticism of Obama's selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. We don't know. We've been sitting on this news since just before Christmas, so it has been in the works for a while. But if Gene had been contacted before the Warren selection was announced, it seems unlikely he would have spoken out so strongly against the choice.)

The Huffington Post chimes in, as do the Christian Broadcasting Network, the Human Rights Campaign and New York magazine's Daily Intel. The Boston Globe has also filed a story. Ben Smith of Politco's blog writes:

It's a mark of Obama's raw power at the moment as much of his unifying message, that he can bring in fundamentally opposed Christian leaders like those two, without either walking out. (Though, to be fair, they're a safe 48 hours apart.)

Still, it's a mark of just how different, when it comes to mainstreaming gay leaders, it is to have a Democrat in the White House than a Republican, or even than a 1990s Democrat.

The interesting read is the Christian Broadcasting Network's take.