Pray that they may be one

The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire (China Daily)

Episcopal Cafe received this email from Bishop Robinson this morning:

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

Comment from Mike Allen at Politico:

“The president-elect has respect for the Rt. Rev. Robinson, who offered his
advice and counsel over the past couple of years,” an inaugural official said.
“It also has the benefit of further reinforcing our commitment to an open and
inclusive inaugural.”
Many of Obama’s supporters were furious at the choice of Rick Warren, the
evangelical pastor and best-selling author, to deliver the invocation at the
swearing-in ceremony.

Warren had endorsed California’s Proposition 8, which
bans same-sex marriage, with a statement saying: “There is no reason to change
the universal, historical definition of marriage to appease 2 percent of our

The furor has been Obama’s biggest clash with his party’s left
wing since he was elected.

An Obama source said: “Robinson was in the plans
before the complaints about Rick Warren. Many skeptics will read this as a
direct reaction to the Warren criticism – but it’s just not so.”


I confess to some scepticism about Obama. My sense of American foreign policy is that the rhetoric changes much more than policy which has remained remarkably consistent for decades.

But perhaps it was Bush and the neocons who broke the mould - leaving Obama more room for manoeuvre than his Democrat predecessors. Perhaps the Empire has already been losing its grip (witness the failure to crush opposition in South America), and perhaps the financial crisis will further weaken its reach.

The mood music has already changed. It is likely to change still more - and this matters greatly to the culture wars. There has, I believe, been vicious and visceral attempts to smear Obama by association (with islam, and thence terrorism) and it's likely to get worse. But, at the moment at least, these now seem peripheral, the rantings of bitter losers. Yet they were influential against Clinton and the anti-Clinton warriors are still around.

It is the culture wars which matter for the Church. Maybe the big conservative funders will have to retrench and put their money back into the political fight which they thought had been won. Even if they don't they are now on the back foot: conservatives tried to lever TEC into the conservative camp. Only their lever broke, leaving them holding the handle and wondering what to do with it. Conservative splinter groups fostered in Bush's heyday will now find the weather much more inclement.


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