Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, criticized the selection.
“President-elect Barack Obama says he wants to unite Americans, and yet he chooses the most polarizing person in the Episcopal Church, Bishop Gene Robinson, to offer a prayer at one of his inaugural events,” he said.
After listing some of Bishop Robinson’s past remarks criticizing the Catholic Church, Mr. Donahue said “Obama has chosen a man who offends Catholics as much as he does Protestants,” he added. “If that’s his idea of inclusion, he can keep it. The only saving grace is that Robinson says he will not use a Bible next week. It would be news if he did.”
Bishop Robinson will be part of a star-studded event at the Lincoln Memorial featuring readings by celebrities Denzel Washington, Queen Latifah, Jamie Foxx and Martin Luther King III, and performers such as Beyonce, Bono, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor and Stevie Wonder. The extravaganza, which begins at 2 p.m., will be aired exclusively on HBO Sunday evening. Both the president and vice-president-elect will attend.
The bishop’s selection was not totally out of the blue, as he had been a liaison between gays and the Obama campaign and was one of the first religious leaders to endorse the Democratic nominee.
He is not the first gay cleric to offer prayers during inauguration festivities. The Rev. Peter J. Gomes, an American Baptist preacher who teaches at Harvard, gave the benediction at the 1985 Reagan inauguration and preached at the 1989 George H.W. Bush’s National Prayer Service at the Washington Cathedral. He revealed his homosexuality in 1991 but said he was remaining celibate.
Julia Duin is the Times’ religion editor. She has a master’s degree in religion from Trinity School for Ministry (an Episcopal seminary) and has covered the beat for three decades. Before coming to The Washington Times, she worked for five newspapers, including a stint as a religion writer for the Houston Chronicle and a year as city editor at the ...
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