The openly gay bishop whose ordination was the catalyst for division among the Episcopal Church announced he is getting a divorce.
Gene Robinson, said in a column published by the Daily Beast that he and husband Mark Andrew were parting ways after five years of marriage.
The cause for the divorce would remain private, he said, but “the reasons for ending a marriage fall on the shoulders of both parties: the missed opportunities for saying and doing the things that might have made a difference, the roads not taken, the disappointments endured but not confronted.”
Mr. Robinson made history and headlines when the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire elected him as the denomination’s first openly gay priest. His ordination created a deep divide in the faith, causing a number of U.S. churches to break away from the Episcopal Church and for a number of more conservative national churches in the Anglican Communion to break ties with the U.S. denomination.
“It is at least a small comfort to me, as a gay rights and marriage equality advocate, to know that like any marriage, gay and lesbian couples are subject to the same complications and hardships that afflict marriages between heterosexual couples,” Mr. Robinson said.
Mr. Robinson has retired from the diocese and currently works as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in the District.
GOD HATES DEFECTORS TOO
The Westboro Baptist Church has lost another member to the outside world.
In an interview with the Topeka Capital-Journal on Monday, Zach Phelps-Roper, grandson of anti-gay pastor Fred Phelps, said he left his Westboro Baptist Church because of a “general lack of empathy.”
Mr. Phelps-Roper, 23, said he left the anti-gay church in late February, about a month before his grandfather’s death, but he’d been considering a move since he was 18.
“I had thoughts about getting so angry that I wanted to leave the church,” Mr. Phelps-Roper said in a videotaped interview. “I felt I wasn’t being listened to, being given the benefit of the doubt.”
The church is well known for its anti-gay protests at military and other funerals. In March, founder Fred Phelps died at 84, leaving some to wonder about the future of the church without its patriarch.
Church officials do not provide membership information, but a 2011 interview posted on the church’s blog site said it has 40 members, a decline from about 80 members a few years earlier. According to media reports, the church mostly is comprised of Phelps’ extended family. Last year, four of Phelps’ grandchildren reportedly left the church and four of his 13 children also have reportedly left.
Despite reports that the late Phelps was abusive — rumors his grandson said he’d heard as well — Mr. Phelps-Roper said his grandfather was “one of the kindest people I ever knew.”
“He cut my hair every two months and he always used those opportunities to teach me things about the Bible, about life,” he said. “Every birthday he’d call me up, he sang this little song to me, and he’d always end it with ‘how do you like that?’”