Bishop Gene Robinson reflects on ever present threats

July 15, 2008

Bishop Gene Robinson preaches in London, 13 July 2008/Alessia PierdomenicoSitting in the sun-kissed grounds of a London church, U.S.Bishop Gene Robinson reflected in sombre mood on what it meant to be the first openly gay bishop in the 450-year history of the Anglican church.

Robinson, a divorced father of two, has received death threats and wore a bulletproof vest at his consecration back in 2003. Two uniformed police officers stood guard last month as he entered into a civil partnership with his longtime partner. He was heckled when preaching in London over the weekend.

“I take the threats very seriously, I have to,” he said. “But I am not interested in being a martyr, I just want to be a bishop.”

Robinson’s visit to Britain concides with the Lambeth Conference, the ten-yearly meeting of bishops from the worldwide Anglican Communion, but he has not been invited to attend. So he has several speaking engagements outside of the conference, including a sermon at Saint Mary’s Church in the Putney section of London on Sunday where he urged Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to show firmer leadership and get conservative foes to tone down homophobic taunts.

In an interview with Reuters, there was no hiding the disappointment in his voice when talking about Williams’ decision not to invite him. And he repeated that he felt it was high time Williams took a stand against Conservative opponents who taunted him with homophobic mockery.

“There is no place in the Christian Church for someone to say Satan has entered the church with my consecration or that gay people are lower than dogs,” the 61-year-old bishop said.

Bishop Gene Robinson preaches in London, 13 July 2008/Alessia Pierdomenico“You cannot say those kind of things about gays and lesbians people and then be shocked when there is violence against them,” he said.

Clearly exasperated with a navel-gazing church obsessed with its own internal problems, he said human sexuality was an important issue but added “I would agree with many Africans that there are so many more important things to be dealing with.”

But he was clearly proud of what he had achieved in trying to sweep hypocrisy away, saying: “I would like to think I have raised the issue of how destructive ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell’ can be.”

70 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

-Except that the Bible says it is a sin to perform Homosexual acts. Father Ted, you know better than I that you can’t pick and choose parts of the Bible you like and throw the rest out. Just because western pop culture has changed position on homoseulaity since the 70s does not mean God has. It was a sin in Christ’s time and its still a sin to have relations with the same sex. Sorry it don’t fly. I don’t care what the liberal media pushes and prints its not normal and its a sin.

Posted by Mrs. Boyle | Report as abusive

Dear lady, God is the judge of sin, and His angels will separate the weeds from the wheat at His command. That is their job, not ours. Christ commanded each of us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Why then do we still devote some of our soul/heart/mind/strength away from God to condemn the neighbor whom Christ also commanded us to love?

What burden compels our recurrent need to marginalize and scapegoat those whom God has created, just as He created us? Mrs. Boyle, i pray that someday you are granted the grace to experience Christ through the eyes and hands of someone like Bishop Robinson.

Posted by Father Ted | Report as abusive

I know God is the judge of sin but His word is clear in the Bible and what He says is the truth. As far as judging someone. That is not my right but if someone murders or steals something do we all not know that is bad and don’t we all react to the sin? Of course we do. We all know when someone cheats on the spouse its wrong and we all see the damage it does. I don’t want to punish or humiliate sinners. I want no vengeance or wish to hurt them. I love people and I have Gay and straight friends. I never say anything to my Gay friends to make them feel bad but that doesn’t mean I agree with their life choices. Here is one of many stories from my life on how homosexuality is destructive and sinful. When I was in my very early teens my neighbors oldest daughter got married. Barbara was a lovely young women but shy. She Married a man who was a tall handsome guy from Warren, Pennsylvania. They looked to be very happy and very well matched. We all felt joy for them. A few years latter I was shocked to hear the marriage was in trouble. A few years latter I heard Barbara had been in therapy because her husband would not sleep with her and never came home at night. She was distraught and felt terrible about herself and had with drawn from her family her social life.This couple had been living in NYC since they wed. Latter when they split for good I found out she came home to find her husband on the couch with another man one day having sex. She had been blaming herself for years that Keith no longer loved her. So please don’t tell me how Gay people have had it so bad and how much they are persecuted. Once more women suffer at the hands of men who are slaves to their animal urges and no one cares. All these TV shows and articles go on and on about these hidden lives of Gay men in agony but I am not seeing that in my travels through life. I am seeing women hurt by the selfish acts of Gay men like Gene Robinson and like this man who married my neighbor. I can tell you dozens of stories about how Gay men have wrecked the lives of women I know and they care nothing about what they have done the their wives and children. The children suffer the most. You can’t make me believe that Gene Robinsons daughters have not been damaged for life by their father’s actions. I know Christ will be the judge of him and I know he will have allot to answer for too.

Posted by Mrs. Boyle | Report as abusive

Hey, Ted,

Repent seems to be missing from the equation, here. Turn
away from….

It’s one thing to admit sin. To keep on with it is quite
another. If homosexuality is not a sin, then so be it.
Is that why is it so rampant in the catholic church and why you would like others to embrace it?

Tell me why you can’t go to church without all this in our faces-shoved-down-our-throats-love me? That’s not
very nice.

I am guilty as charged for my (missing the mark) sin. It
is time to aim again for the hope of hitting the mark.

Posted by al | Report as abusive

Yes Al, still another big time Priest in NYC taken from his church due to accusations of fondling boys. It was in the New York Times yesterday. This one has a twist its a Black leader. The very same Pastor who set up the visit Church in the US all these Gay priests and gave the invocation at Gov. Patterson’s inauguration recently. The Gay culture within the Church is going to destroy it. Gay culture pushes all the boundaries from gender bending to underage sex. The day my Church excepts homosexuals in its leadership I am gone. Father Ted how does Jesus look on Clergy preying on little boys? in NY for the Pope, Rev. Monsignor Wallace Harris. It threatens to bring down the whole Roman Catholic Church. It’s ripping the Episcopalian Church apart. Such selfishness. The whole world church may fall because a minority selfishly wants to impose their will on the greater Church body. It would not surprise me that by mid century the Church only survives in places like Africa and Asia.

Posted by Mrs. Boyle | Report as abusive

Al, there is no possibility of redemption without repentance. Sorry if I did not make that explicit for you; it is such a given in my mind. I am sorry for not making that clear.

The rest of your comment I find confusing; I’m not sure what you mean. To restate what I said in an earlier comment, I believe that both heterosexuality and homosexuality are morally equivalent and that homosexuality is no more innately sinful than heterosexuality.

I can argue that HOW a person expresses their sexuality, whether they are gay or straight, is where sin enters. To build on Mrs. Boyle’s tragic examples, I do believe that infidelity to a marriage covenant is sinful, though that sin is certainly not limited or common to gay men, who likely do not enter into marriage with a heterosexual women as much as heterosexual men do. Nearly all of the instances of marriage infidelity that I’ve known have been among heterosexuals. I see infidelity as a sadly all too common human failing, irrespective of sexual orientation.

I find your use of the term “embrace” to be problematic, since to me it implies that an individual has a conscious choice about which gender they are attracted to, something that is not borne out by any objective evidence I have been able to find, nor have I found that to be the subjective experience of the gay and lesbian people who have sought pastoral care from me.

The concept of embracing an orientation makes no sense to me. Do I ‘embrace’ left-handedness or right handedness? Of course not. Most people are right handed, some are left handed. I embrace people regardless of their handedness. I also encourage fellow Christians to see Christ in every neighbor and to embrace their neighbor, regardless of that neighbor’s sexual orientation.

Not being Roman Catholic, my opinion of the prevalence of homosexuality in their church likely does not carry much weight, except to me.

Posted by Father Ted | Report as abusive

I am no hater let me make that clear, I really feel for Gay and Lesbian people. Life is complicated enough without having gender issues. I can tell you when I look around I see almost only very unhappy people who are Gay and Lesbians. If being free to follow a path to same sex relationships is their right that is a legal and social issue of the culture but it does it bring happiness. I am not seeing it does and I don’t think that is just because tradition resists this type of sex. I think lust not love pervades our cultures and I am deeply concerned that many young people have no idea what is right or wrong. The main reason I do not care for Gene Robinson as a role model and as a church leader is because he broke his marriage vows and he seems to think that is OK because he is somehow some kind of victim of traditional society and therefore what he has done to his daughters is just fine. Well as a social worker and teacher I can tell its not just fine. He has broken God’s law and he has not shown any signs of repenting. Just because his ex-wife has now excepted the situation and has found a new life does not mean she has not suffered greatly because of her husbands actions. Now she has to hear about her life talked about globally in the media every day. I don’t know how this poor women is not insane. It’s really so wrong and so perverted what is happening today. Gene Robinson is no victim and no hero. He is a run of the mill adulterer blaming his short comings on someone else.

Posted by Mrs. Boye | Report as abusive

Mrs. Boyle persists in mis-characterizing all gay people based upon her own biased, subjective views. Knowing absolutely nothing about Bish his op Robinson, she rails against him and slanders his entire family.

Bishop Robinson never lied to his former wife about his sexuality. He share the fact of his same-sex attractions with her long before they were married. She was (and still is) amazingly supportive of him during all the years of therapy and prayer when he mistakenly believed that being gay was something that could be changed. They mutually came to the decision to divorce years later when they both realized that it wouldn’t change. They didn’t ‘break’ their vows, as Mrs. Boyle so spitefully believes. Instead, they both felt so strongly about their marriage vows that they stood at an altar, in front of friends and family and lovingly released each other from the vows they had taken.

All of this they both have stated publicly. Yet small-minded people, threatened by the truth, must have their scapegoat.

Mrs. Boyle seems determined to blame gay men for marital infidelity, divorce, pedophilia, and heterosexual women’s pain. She also claims the gay people are not happy. What utter BS.

Some gay people (certainly not representative of most gay people) do enter into marriage believing that it will somehow make the straight. Frequently they make that choice at the insistent urging of family, or upon the advice of professional therapists. Perhaps they make their tragic choices because they are so confused from believing the fallacious Mrs. Bigots of the world.

Some cannot accept the truth of their own God-given sexuality, and hurt themselves and others in the process. Some cannot accept the truth of others, and lash out in biased blame and willful ignorance. Mrs. Boyle certainly seems to fit into the latter category, proudly proclaiming that she believes what she believes, no matter what. While people like her are free and entitled to delude herself without challenge, she’s not free to slander and mislead others without objection. At least not in this thread.

Don’t claim authority as a social worker, in support of your arguments, Mrs. Boyle. The profession you claim hardly does not support your prejudice. According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW): “Social workers are guided by the NASW Code of Ethics which bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. NASW believes that non- judgmental attitudes toward sexual orientation allow social workers to offer optimal support and services to lesbian and gay people. NASW affirms its commitment to work toward full social and legal acceptance of lesbian and gay people. The profession must also act to eliminate and prevent discriminatory statutes, policies, and actions that diminish the quality of life for lesbian and gay people and that force many to live their lives in the closet.” The British Association of Social Workers endorses a similar position. Now I’m sure Mrs. Boyle will find some way to blame these official association positions on gay people as well, since they seem to be her repository for all sorts of blaming. But she’ll still be deluded.

Posted by Scott Smith | Report as abusive

Science shows that same sex sexual orientation is not something you are born with. Despite the frantic efforts of Gay men who want to believe that, there is no serious scientist yet that will say it is so because there is zero proof. It is obvious a number of factors come together to make someone attracted to the same sex. Pedophiles are attracted to children and can’t seem to stop being attracted to having sex with children. Should we then say its OK they can’t help it let them perform sexual acts on kids! No! The fact remains you can control your urges God gave you something called self control. I am attracted to other men all the time but I don’t act on it. If Gene Robinson was any kind of Christian he would have made those sacrifices for the sake of his wife and kids but he is too selfish to do this. His loins speak louder to him than God! Gene Robinson has injured his daughters and he has sinned. The Bible makes it very clear. Many many Priests have been celibate as they consider their marriage to be to the Church. Gene is married to himself.

Posted by Mrs. Boye | Report as abusive

It never ends the sad stories of what the sin of homosexual relations brings on those who live this life of degrading behavior. americas/07mexico.html?ref=world

Posted by Mrs. Boye | Report as abusive

Oy. Mrs. Boyle/Boye opines: “Science shows that same sex sexual orientation is not something you are born with. Despite the frantic efforts of Gay men who want to believe that, there is no serious scientist yet that will say it is so because there is zero proof.”


Then Mrs. Boyle/Boye tries (AGAIN) to equate pedophiles with gays.

Wrong AGAIN. Homosexuality is NOT an illness and it is NOT abuse waged on innocent victims. Pedophilia is both of these things.

Then Mrs. Boyle/Boye tries to paint Bishop Robinson as some degenerate, saying, “His loins speak louder to him than God!”

You’re wrong. AGAIN. As I and others have said between your ignorant tirades, you need to do some research on Bishop Robinson.

Finally, you’ve mentioned a couple times that your big problem with Bishop Robinson is that he’s divorced. My question to you: Are you this concerned about other religious leaders who are divorced? Do you spend this much energy vilifying and defaming them?


Like I said, Mrs. Boyle is delusional, and can’t seem to stop herself from proving it over and over.

There have been many peer reviewed scientific studies over the past 40 years that demonstrate that homosexuality isn’t a choice. The dominant emerging scientific consensus is that there are several contributing factors which determine where an individual ends up on the spectrum of human sexuality, from heterosexual to gay.

Here’s a helpful summary on the current (reality-based) state of scientific research on sexual orientation, from Dr. David G. Myers:

Mrs. Boyle certainly seems to have an obsession with condemning Bishop Robinson, easily ignoring and discounting that fact the story of his family doesn’t actually fit into her prejudices. Oh, and Mrs. B: I think Father Ted’s right – homosexuality is no more a sin than heterosexuality. But since you obviously have a deep-seated need to demonize gay people, especially gay men, feel free. You’re entitled to your opinion. But the facts are the facts, and the opinions you’ve been casting around here aren’t based in reality.

Posted by Scott Smith | Report as abusive

“Born that way” theory

Posted by Mrs. Boyle | Report as abusive

My dear friends, I am not someone who hates homosexuals, I just want them to stop trying to force the rest of us to except what they do and force us to say what the Bible says about same sex relations is wrong. I have said it before here, I have relatives who are Gay. I do not ever try to hurt them in anyway or pound them into seeing things my way. God will deal with the issue when the time comes. Please, just stop trying to beat the rest of us into agreeing you sins are not sins. Calling every person who does not agree a bigot widens the gap by miles. Please come down from your ivory towers and embrace reality?

Posted by Mars. Boyle | Report as abusive

Every time someone uses as a reputable source an angel starts to giggle.


Chuckle all you want to, Matt but you are no angel. Some of the links on that site may be slanted but the mainstream scientists all say the same thing people are NOT born Gay. I have been following this topic for years. tent/article/2008/06/30/AR2008063000355. html

They also say some genes make certain individuals more prone to be promiscous but that does not mean you have to do that. God gives us free will.

Posted by Mars. Boyle | Report as abusive

NARTH: An organization that lack credibility, with a long documented history of junk-science and misusing others’ research. About NARTH

According to an official statement issued by the American Psychological Association in 2006:

“For over three decades the consensus of the mental health community has been that homosexuality is not an illness and therefore not in need of a cure. The APA’s concern about the positions espoused by NARTH (The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) and so-called conversion therapy is that they are not supported by the science. There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. Our further concern is that the positions espoused by NARTH and Focus on the Family create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.”

Mrs. B said: I am coming from the background of a biologist and a creature attracted to its own sex is not a working model, good people!

Any knowledgeable biologist can confirm that homosexual behavior is seen in many mammals. While biologists are still puzzled about why homosexuality is such an enduring characteristic, recently there was some fanfare among researchers that statistically at least, maternal female relatives of gay men exhibit higher fertility rates. Here’s a link to an article on this research:

Mrs. B said: Did you see the video of Gene Robinson driven from the pulpit by people who stood up to him from the congregation. I wish I could have been there!

Perhaps if she had been there or had actually read the article that accompanied the video to which she linked, she would know that it was the sole heckler who was quickly escorted out of the church, that the congregation drowned out the heckler’s insults first with slow clapping (a sign of disapproval in Britain) and then by loudly singing a hymn. Bishop Robinson then asked the congregation to pray for the man, and then continued his sermon.

Mrs. B said: Show me how Gay people are not selfish?
Assuming that altruism is defined as a value that includes giving of one’s time and energy to others at some cost to oneself and without expectation of reciprocation, the few studies that have been done indicate that gay men are far more altruistic than straight men. In fact, there is evidence that gay men are at least as altruistic as straight women, who routinely score at the top of altruism scales. Here are just a few resources:
1. A. Christopher Richards, “Altruistic Behavior and Caregiving in the AIDS Epidemic” (Paper presented at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, 1992).
2. D. Salais and R.B. Fischer, “Sexual Preference and Altruism,” Journal of Homosexuality, 28(1-2)(1995).
3. E.O. Wilson, Sociobiology, (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1975).
Interestingly, some marketing research has indicated that lgbt donors to lgbt charitable institutions also donate money to other non-lgbt institutional charities which do not provide any services to lgbt communities. While more research needs to be done to solidly confirm this, what has been studied so far indicates that lgbt donors are far more willing than heterosexual donors to invest in charitable institutions that they don’t use, even ones that help people who were very unlike them.

Mrs. B said: Except that the Bible says it is a sin to perform Homosexual acts.
That’s infinitely debatable. There are at most seven passages of Scripture that have been traditionally interpreted by some Christians as portraying homosexual acts as sin, but I would argue that these people have misused Scripture to justify and support their existing prejudices. At most, these passages indicate that it’s sinful for heterosexuals to perform homosexual acts, or that it’s sinful to use sexual acts (i.e. rape) against the unwilling to subjugate and victimize them.

Mrs. B said: …another big time Priest in NYC taken from his church due to accusations of fondling boys. (Monsignor Harris)
That’s a sad story. Even sadder, the DA’s office has said it is unlikely to charge Monsignor Harris on these allegations, so at this point it still has yet to be proven that he in fact did fondle any one. However, another priest from that parish was charged, tried and convicted a few years ago for molesting a girl.

Mrs. B said: I can tell you when I look around I see almost only very unhappy people who are Gay and Lesbians.
People often have trouble seeing what’s right in front of them. LGBT people are generally no more or less happy than heterosexuals, though research shows there is a higher incidence of depression among the LGBT population when compared to heterosexuals. Studies have concluded that’s most likely due to the added social stigma and discrimination that LGBT people experience. Mrs. Boyle has demonstrated this stigmatizing of gay people most ably as well as repeatedly.

Mrs. B said: …as a social worker and teacher…
I though she said she had a background in biology? Well, perhaps she taught biology, though I would expect a biology teacher to be a bit more up to date on current scientific findings.

Mrs. B said: Science shows that same sex sexual orientation is not something you are born with.
Science shows no such thing, as Matt stated in his post. Again, here’s a helpful summary on the current (reality-based) state of scientific research on sexual orientation, from Dr. David G. Myers, professor of psychology at Hope University, a Christian college:
What science has repeatedly indicated is that sexual orientation is not something subject to the will. Heterosexuals cannot willfully become homosexual, and gay people cannot willfully become heterosexual. Some studies have indicated that a statistically small number of highly motivated gay individuals have been able to temporarily reorient their sexual behavior, and enter a sexual relationship with an opposite sex partner, but anecdotal evidence indicates that these situations often end in sad scenarios like Mrs. Boyle described about her neighbor. The ‘ex-gay’ partner’s natural orientation re-emerges, and both he (or she) and their straight partner end up hurt and disappointed. It would be more beneficial to society to encourage gay people marry each other, and heterosexuals to continue marrying each other.

As to the claim of not being a hater or a bigot: If it looks like a bigot, writes like a bigot, and clings to views despite a preponderance of evidence to the contrary, it probably is a bigot.

Posted by Scott Smith | Report as abusive

I have seen my ram sheep bugger each other but as soon a female comes on the scene they forget about their male sex partners and bee line for the ewes. I am stumped by these studies as in 25 years of breeding sheep I have never had a “Gay” ram. I have lived on a this farm for 20 years and I only see animals that are bisexual at certain times. I have never seen one in all these years only focus on the same sex. Why would you say I am a hater or a bigot? Have I shown any hate towards any Gay person? The answer is no. Do I want to see violence against Gays, no. Would I say something cruel to a Gay person, no. Do I enjoy it when Gay people suffer, no. You are the bigots. You are so sure you are right because you want acceptance so bad you feel the need to attack anyone who does not agree with your position. Did you follow the Washington Post link about Homosexuals and nature vs. nurture I posted? I see allot of people suffering who are Gay and I can only ascertain that this is why the Bible says it is wrong to have relations with someone of the same gender. I am just as hard on heterosexual couples who live together out of wedlock and single mothers. I think they are all going against God. Our society is depraved and twisted. This super liberal stuff is crazy. I am not a conservative. I am liberal to moderate on all issues. My feelings about this issue are based on my understanding of the Bible and by my life experiences. All this enormous social change came about because there was so much wealth and food and so many resources. These have been the highest of times. When things get really hard economically people will suddenly stop being so easy about all these rapid social chances that hurt women and children so much. You cannot understand humanity by looking at life from 1979-2008, folks. Are you are telling me everything until the far left took control in the West has been wrong? I don’t think so! These have been years of unprecedented change and upheaval. Hang on to your seats folks ’cause the roller coaster has crested and is going down fast now. It won’t be going up any time soon with energy prices as they are. The pendulum is now going the other way and people are taking stock of how far we have strayed from God’s plan. Hopefully people will wake up and hear God’s word again soon and stop being hedonistic and start doing His will.

Posted by Mrs. Boyle | Report as abusive

Most of Mrs. Boyle’s posts are patently offensive, embodying judgment and an ignorance that is casually hateful and cruel towards gay people. Evidently she’s blind to that. However, she takes offense when the hateful untruths she espouses are contradicted. Perhaps that’s because, as she herself admits, her views are completely subjective, based upon her own understandings & experiences of life and the Bible. Since her conclusions are so easily routed by objective facts, her only choices are to cede the argument or become more shrill.

She has posted links to articles that do not support her arguments. Since she seems to think they do, she must have highly developed the ability to screen out any factual information (or indeed, any possibilities) that her eyes do not want to admit into the whited sepulcher of her pharisaical heart.

Liberal? In casting dispersions on those she claims she doesn’t want to see suffer, yes, she is very liberal. She says she is ‘liberal to moderate on all issues’ yet her subsequent sentences belie that claim.

Perhaps though, I was too quick to label her her a bigot. While her actions may be bigoted, maybe she herself is not. She certainly doesn’t like being classified as one. Is she blinded by bias, committed to her own ignorance, compulsively opinionated, unconsciously cruel? Sadly, her own words point to ‘Yes’. But maybe she’s not actually a bigot.

She’s certainly entitled to her opinions, even when they unfairly malign someone who’s dedicated his life to the service of one of God’s communities of faith. Or even whole communities of neighbors. She’s welcome to malign all gay people as much as she wants. I’m sure that’s what she’ll continue to do, tilting at every lavender windmill she myopically perceives.

No matter who’s opinions are right or wrong, I’m certain that God values actual people, even gay people, more that He values the judgments we pronounce on each other.

Posted by Scott Smith | Report as abusive

Er, in the first paragraph of my preceding post, that should have been “aspersions,” not “dispersions”. Though come to think of it, Mrs. Boyle & I are certainly on different wavelengths, and this thread is undeniably diffuse, lol.

Posted by Scott Smith | Report as abusive