Reports on the consecration of the first gay Anglican Bishop


Contents of this page:

1. 'The communion is already broken. Now just prepare for the backlash' V


2. Consecrated: but nothing prepared Gene Robinson for the protests V


3. Two views from the pulpit - in just one church V G

4. A gay bishop, and a revolt in some pews - Misgivings in the Maine diocese

echoes larger Episcopal rifts after Sunday's ordination. V CSM

5. African Anglicans Vent Anger at Gay Bishop V NYT

6. Episcopalians Consecrate First Openly Gay Bishop V WPOST

7. Openly Gay Man Is Made a Bishop V NYT

8. Amid cheers and protests, Robinson consecrated in Diocese of New Hampshire -

Episcopal News Service

9. Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury following the consecration of

Canon Gene Robinson as Bishop-coadjutor of New Hampshire - Anglican Communion

News Service

10. Episcopalians Consecrate Openly Gay Bishop V LATIMES

11. Episcopal Bishop Plans Ritual for Same-Sex Unions - WPOST

12. CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK: The Volatile Notion of a Married Jesus V NYT

13. OP-ED COLUMNIST: The Big Chill at the Lab By BOB HERBERT V NYT

14. A Gay Teen's Moment of Truth V WPOST

15. BOOK REVIEW: 'The Serenity Prayer': Among the Heathens By ANN HULBERT V NYT


1. 'The communion is already broken. Now just prepare for the backlash'

By James Burleigh

03 November 2003

The Anglican Church appeared split down the middle last night in its reaction

to the consecration of Gene Robinson.

The Most Rev Gregory Venables, primate of several South American countries,

said that unity with the North American Church had been "impaired by this

consecration". He said: "The Communion is already broken."

Earlier this year he accused leaders of the Anglicans in the northern

hemisphere of being "culturally deaf". He also warned that "the primates of the

global south are mobilising themselves" and said the row could lead to a

break-up of the 70 million-strong Church with the Archbishop of Canterbury

heading the northern hemisphere and the south headed by a separate


Archbishop Peter Akinola, who leads the 17.5 million-strong Church of Nigeria,

said the appointment would bring "much sadness and disappointment" to his

congregation. He said: "A clear choice has been made for a Church that exists

primarily in allegiance to the unbiblical departures and waywardness of our

generation; a Church that enthrones the will of men over and above the

authority of God and His revealed and written Word."

He added: "We cannot go on limping between two opinions."

But his views were countered by Archbishop Njongo Ndungane, primate of South

Africa, who said that the Church was able to contend with the "creative

diversity" and argued that fragmentation was not the solution.

He said: "It [the gay issue] will not go away, even if people decide to go away

from us. As leaders of the Church, we need to lead by example ... we should try

to urge people to find common ground." The Church of Ireland primate Archbishop

Robin Eames, appointed chairman of an international commission tasked with

preserving the future of the Anglican Communion, said the consecration posed a

serious threat to the unity of the Church. "We have to face up to it that there

are very big divisions over this issue," he said.

The British evangelical campaign group, Reform, said there was no doubt that

the split would occur if the consecration went ahead. "We believe that

homosexual relationships are clearly contrary to the teaching of Holy

Scripture," the group said. "The Anglican Communion must now formalise a

separation that has already occurred."

The office of Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, refused to comment

until after the consecration ceremony.

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, based in Britain, said that it welcomed

the appointment "thoughtfully and prayerfully".

© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd



2. Consecrated: but nothing prepared Gene Robinson for the protests

By Andrew Buncombe in Durham, New Hampshire

03 November 2003

Consecrated: but nothing prepared Gene Robinson for the protests

'The communion is already broken. Now just prepare for the backlash'

The Reverend Gene Robinson knew there would be protests, he knew there would be

people objecting to him making history. He knew those protestors would be

vocal, they would not sit quietly by while he was consecrated as the Anglican

church's first openly gay Bishop.

But surely the 56-year-old divorced father could not have anticipated the words

of Father Earle Fox, a retired priest from Pittsburgh, who intervened

dramatically during yesterday evening's consecration service in Durham, New

Hampshire, after the head of the US Episcopalian Church asked if there were


"Whatever else homosexuality is, it is a behaviour. It would thus be reasonable

to inquire into the nature of such behaviour for which approval is sought," Mr

Fox told the congregation of several thousand, including more than two dozen

Bishops. "For males, about 99 per cent engage in oral sex, 91 per cent engage

in anal sex, 82 per cent engage in rimming, touching of the anus of one

partner." Before Mr Fox could get any further, he was cut of by the US primate,

the Most Reverend Frank Griswold, and asked to get to the substance of the


It was probably just as well. A copy of Mr Fox's entire speech, obtained

afterwards by The Independent, suggests that the retired priest was trying to

shock people and further widen the schism of the already divided Anglican

worldwide community. "It was supposed to shock people," Mr Fox said afterwards.

"Our side are too embarrassed to talk about it, the others don't dare mention


But in Durham at least, Mr Fox and his supporters were in the minority

yesterday and even his dramatic intervention was unable to prevent Mr Robinson

from being consecrated as the Bishop of New Hampshire, during an emotional

three-hour ceremony.

Bishop Griswold said the objections were well known and that the Bishops had

carefully considered the issues and decided the consecration should go ahead.

He asked too for understanding. "We do our theology in different ways."

Mr Robinson would certainly welcome such sentiments. "Pretty soon, it is going

to be time for us to get over all of this pain and difficulty and get on with

the gospel," Mr Robinson said in a recent interview with The Independent. "That

is what God would have us do and that is what we need to do here in the diocese

of New Hampshire."

Here in leafy New Hampshire ­ where Mr Robinson was selected as the

Bishop-elect earlier this year ­ there has been a weight of opinion in support

of a man generally considered dignified, friendly and someone more than able to

provide leadership to the church as it faces new challenges.

In the well-heeled university city of Durham ­ which hosted yesterday's event -

most people seemed to believe that with who Mr Robinson shared his bed was a

matter for him.

Local parishioners and members of the clergy, for instance, had shown their

support for Mr Robinson by donating gold jewellery that was melted down and

forged into a cross for him to wear during the service at an indoor ice arena

at the University of New Hampshire.

Some divorced parishioners sent wedding rings. One woman, Judith Esmay, sent a

pin to "right a wrong" she committed nearly 50 years ago when, as the president

of her student association, she failed to support the membership of a black

student. "It's been lingering inside of me that I should have done more," she

said. "Being part of Mr Robinson's election makes me feel that somehow I have

paid back. This has given me a second chance to stand my ground and say 'This

is right.'"

But in the wider Anglican community or communion, most particularly in Africa

and Asia, the fact that Mr Robinson's partner is a man ­ Mark Andrew, a local

health official ­ is something that has created a controversy marked at the

extremes by venom and hatred. The Primate of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, described

homosexuality as a "satanic aberration unknown even in animal relations".

Even in genteel New Hampshire there was evidence of such venom, although it had

been imported from Topeka, Kansas, where the self-proclaimed Reverend Fred

Phelps runs the Westbro Baptist Church. Mr Phelps displays his own

interpretation of God's love by hosting a website ( which had

described the consecration as "a sodomite whorehouse orgy".

Mr Phelps' supporters demonstrated outside a number of local churches that had

refused to sign a petition condemning Mr Robinson's consecration. Gus Zaso, 68,

a member of the St Thomas More Catholic Church, said he tried to speak to one

of the demonstrators who was carrying a placard that suggested Aids was "God's

cure" for homosexuality. "You couldn't talk to this person. He just kept

repeating his lines," said Mr Zaso.

Mr Robinson has had to take the objections to his consecration seriously. Among

the e-mails and messages he had received were death threats. In the weeks

before yesterday's service he had travelled with bodyguards and the organisers

of his consecration had arranged for him to arrive in secret, out of sight.

But yesterday ­ as in the months since he was confirmed as Bishop-elect by the

Episcopalian Church's General Convention in Minneapolis this summer ­ Mr

Robinson was not able to avoid his objectors

Mr Robinson will have taken comfort the majority of those among the 4,000

guests at the service supported him. "We just wanted to elect a Bishop. We did

not expect to be at the centre of a controversy," said Ruth Fox, a member of

the committee that had overseen the selection process.

© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd



3. Two views from the pulpit - in just one church

A Sunday in South Africa highlights church divide

Rory Carroll in Johannesburg

Monday November 3, 2003

The Guardian

Stanley Lwanga was a lot closer to one of the eternally damned than he

realised, perhaps three metres, and to know that the doomed soul belonged to

the reverend leading the mass would have been no comfort at all. A lay minister

from Uganda, Mr Lwanga was one of the Anglicans outraged at yesterday's

consecration of the first openly gay bishop and he wished Canon Gene Robinson

in America a quick death to let hell administer punishment.

Preaching from the pulpit over Mr Lwanga was the Rev Doug Torr, head of the

Anglican cathedral church of St Mary in Johannesburg, who had yet to break the

news to his colleague that he was gay.

And assembled before both pastors knelt the congregation: several hundred

mostly black South Africans who may soon be asked to choose between a

liberalised mainstream Anglican communion or a breakaway group of


If a schism comes it has been widely assumed that Africans will side with the

conservatives. Clerics across the continent who speak in their name have voiced

repugnance at Gene Robinson and what his consecration as bishop of New

Hampshire represents.

But the voices in St Mary's yesterday suggested a more nuanced picture among

South Africa's two million Anglicans.

For some, New Hampshire had eclipsed Sodom and Gomorrah as the new citadel of

perversion. For others the election of a gay man as the state's ninth Episcopal

church bishop was to be celebrated as a bold and progressive step. And for

others it was a source of uncertainty: what would Jesus have said?

Buttoning up a purple cassock before heading for the altar, Mr Lwanga, 49, had

no doubt about Canon Robinson. "He should die immediately because he is going

to lead people to hell. What he does is a sin."

He lamented that not all Anglicans could resist the liberals' siren call. "The

devil is very powerful and very real. Robinson is a devil. And some people are

very weak. Here in South Africa they fear their friends in the church more than

they would fear God."

Mr Lwanga knew no gay clerics at St Mary's, where he has worked for eight

years, but if there were any they were hell-bound sinners, he said. Minutes

later he was sharing the altar with Mr Torr. Behind them hung a banner which

said "Let justice roll down like water".

A 39-year-old South African, he was open about being gay at his previous parish

near Soweto but had made no formal announcement to his new flock in

Johannesburg since moving there in September. "I haven't felt the necessity


Events in New Hampshire may accelerate that revelation. Before his sermon the

reverend told the congregation about Canon Robinson and what the synod of

bishops of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa had to say about it

earlier this year.

With some understatement, the Most Reverend Winston Njongonkulu Ndungane,

Archbishop of Cape Town and Primate of Southern Africa, declared that the synod

was "not of one mind" about homosexual clerics.

But Archbishop Ndungane has made his personal views clear by accusing fellow

archbishops in the developing world of arrogance and intolerance over the

issue, a rebuke especially to Nigerian colleagues who said gays were lower than


For Mr Torr, New Hampshire's "historic" consecration of an openly gay bishop is

a welcome follow-up to the "prophetic" decision to allow women priests.

He added: "I'm biased, of course. I've been out of the closet for a long time

now. To be otherwise creates a lot of tension in one's relationship."

The congregation of St Mary's, located amid semi-derelict skyscrapers and

African markets, represented the wide range of South African views, he said, a

diversity attributed to evangelisation by several missionary persuasions.

Mary Mukeki, 53, seated at the back waiting for her grandchildren to arrive,

was troubled upon hearing about Canon Robinson. "It's not nice. God made men

and women to be together."

Another grandmother, Joy Brady, 50, who played the church organ, was less sure.

"I don't know whether to applaud or put it down. I can't judge, I don't know

how many sins I've committed."

Isabel Louw, 63, resplendent like many of the congregation in her Sunday

finery, reckoned it was better for gays to be open. "Like my daughter, she's a


Pinned to the church noticeboard, between posters advertising HIV awareness and

fundraising events, was an exhortation which could have been penned in New

Hampshire: "If a child lives with shame he learns to feel guilty, if a child

lives with tolerance he learns to be patient, if a child lives with approval he

learns to like himself."

A group of teens at the side of the cathedral had a whispered, heated debate on

the subject of gays. Fumani Papie, 18, from Soweto, quoted Zimbabwe's Robert

Mugabe saying God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

His friend, Raphael Nkosinathi, 17, did not like the idea of gay clerics but

was open-minded on the subject. "It's not written in the Bible. Maybe they

didn't have gays then so we can't judge."

Four girls aged between 14 and 17 were unanimous in saying they had gay men

friends who were smarter and more fun than heterosexuals.

With gays in the pulpit God would stay in Heaven, they reckoned.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003



from the November 04, 2003 edition -

4. A gay bishop, and a revolt in some pews

Misgivings in the Maine diocese echoes larger Episcopal rifts after Sunday's ordination.

By Seth Stern

Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

PORTLAND, MAINE - On the day the Episcopal Church ordained a gay bishop in New Hampshire, Brenda and Doug Adams weren't in their regular pew at St. Thomas'


Instead, they drove 90 minutes down the Maine coast to attend a non- Episcopal

service in Portland. It's a trip they've repeated nearly every Sunday since the

Rev. V. Gene Robinson's appointment as bishop was approved in August. "We just

could not continue to support the Episcopal church," says Mrs. Adams.

Their quiet departure may not compare with the open insurrection brewing in

many conservative dioceses around the country. Indeed, that any dissent is

bubbling up in Maine may seem surprising at first glance. This is a state where

residents are usually loath to make waves. It is also one of the most liberal

Episcopal dioceses in the country, and the fifth to ordain a woman, Chilton

Knudsen, as bishop.

But still, the ordination in neighboring New Hampshire has prompted some Maine

faithful to withhold money or even plot group breakaways. Coming from where

they are, these moves are some of the starkest signs yet of the deep schism

threatening to tear the church apart.

"These fissures seem all but inevitable," says Leo Sandon, a professor of

religion and American studies at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

"You're talking about a kind of Anglo-Catholic faction within the Episcopal


Many of the dissenters are of the older generation who say that Mr. Robinson's

ordination was the last straw after three decades of grievances. First came

changes in the liturgy and then the ordination of women priests.

That was enough to drive away, one by one, Mr. Adams's father and his six

younger siblings. Robinson's ordination persuaded him and his mother to depart,


The decision wasn't easy for Mr. and Mrs. Adams, who began attending the church

near Camden's sailboat-filled harbor after retiring to the area several years

ago. Mr. Adams served as an usher and lay reader, though he tried staying out

of church politics.

What finally pushed them out, Mrs. Adams says, was the decision by their

priest, the Rev. Michael Rowe, not to address the controversy from the pulpit,

relegating it to a more informal discussion after the service.

"This is too serious a subject to chat about over coffee," Mrs. Adams says.

Robinson's ordination also prompted Richard McLaughlin to leave St. Thomas for

a Baptist church 90 minutes north in Bangor. He says his departure was

inevitable after he was the lone dissenter in a church vote on ordaining Ms.

Knudsen as bishop.

"We're there to worship God, not be social engineers," he says. "I wanted my

children out before they were involved in false teachings." He particularly

fears the impact the decision will have on the wider Anglican Church in Africa

- a cause he continues to support financially.

Mr. Rowe says those decisions to leave the church are so far "the exception,"

although a half-dozen other parishioners asked if their donations could be

limited to the church to avoid being "implicated with actions by the diocese."

"It has created significant upset and turmoil and slowed us down," says Rowe.

"We haven't been able to focus on what we're primarily concerned with."

At the Maine diocese's annual convention last month, delegates from an

Episcopal church in Gardiner introduced a resolution condemning Robinson's

ordination as a "tragic mistake." Instead, delegates approved a statement that

Knudsen says "commits us to continue the discussion, to respect our differences

and to continue to carry out the work of the Gospel of Christ here in Maine."

That response proved unsatisfactory to at least four parishes that have

approached an Episcopal Church splinter group - the Anglican Church in America

- about setting up their own churches.

The Rev. Kevin Holsapple, rector at St. John's in Bangor, says he might support

such a move were it not for the many legal and property impediments. "It's a

sad day for me," he says. "It's a departure from the teachings of the

Scriptures, and it's going to alienate us from the rest of the Anglican


It's a path already taken by parishioners at the Anglican Cathedral of St.

Paul, the church the Adamses opted to attend. The parish voted to stop paying

dues to the Episcopal Church in 1974 after women were ordained as priests. It

formally broke away 15 years later, taking their building with them. The

ensuing legal battle over the church was eventually settled out of court.

The Adamses didn't even know the Anglican Church of America existed until they

saw an ad in a local newspaper. In picking this Portland church, they traded

one stone-covered harborside church for another. Instead, however, of the crowd

of nearly 150 that gathered in Camden, at times they could count on only one

other person to attend the 7 a.m. mass at St. Paul.

Still, they liked what they saw. "I am so grateful that people stood on

principle and stayed with the Scripture and teachings," says Mrs. Adams. Mr.

Adams says it reminds him of the services he attended as a kid. "It was a trip

home," he says.

At the early service this past Sunday, the Rev. Lester York alluded briefly to

ordination, saving lengthier comments for the 10 a.m. mass.

Back at St. Thomas, Robinson's ordination didn't come up. Rowe says there were

six baptisms to fit in and an All Saints' Day presentation by Sunday school

students dressed up as St. Francis and Joan of Arc. Says Rowe, "We had other

things to do."

Full HTML version of this story which may include photos, graphics, and related

links | Copyright © 2003 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights

reserved. For permission to reprint/republish this article, please email



November 3, 2003

5. African Anglicans Vent Anger at Gay Bishop


NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov. 3 X Africa's Anglican leaders expressed fury today at the

consecration over the weekend of a gay bishop in New Hampshire, renewing their

intention to break from the American church and opening up a deep ideological

fault line that criss-crossed the world.

"The devil has clearly entered our church," said an angry Archbishop Benjamin

Nzimbi of Kenya, who has announced that his church will have nothing to do with

the Episcopal Church U.S.A. that sanctioned Canon V. Gene Robinson's


Similar sentiments were heard from conservative church leaders elsewhere around

the globe.

"The United States have declared independence," said Archbishop Greg Venables,

the Anglican leader of South America. Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney told

Reuters, "It's a sad day for the church."

The opposition seemed most vociferous in Africa, where homosexuals remain

closeted and popular sentiment regards same-sex relationships as a vice

exported from the West. Railing against homosexuality is a regular feature of

Sunday sermons in Africa, and political leaders condemn gays as aggressively as

does the man on the street.

Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who represents 17 million Anglicans, said

he would refuse to recognize Bishop Robinson, no matter what church leaders


"We deplore the act of those bishops who have taken part in the consecration,

which has now divided the church in violation of their obligation to guard the

faith and unity of the church," Archbishop Akinola said, issuing a statement on

behalf of disgruntled Anglicans in Africa, Asia and Latin America, 50 million

church members in all.

Accusing American church officials of ignoring "the heartfelt plea" of their

colleagues in the developing world, Archbishop Akinola's statement called on

the archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglicans' spiritual leader, to create a new

oversight structure to allow churches to remain in fellowship with the global

Anglican church but separate from the Episcopal Church U.S.A.

Uganda's Anglicans joined in condemning the notion of a homosexual bishop. The

consecration of Mr. Robinson was "unacceptable to the church," Stanley Ntagari,

a spokesman for the Ugandan Anglicans, told The Associated Press.

He said the church of Uganda, the second-largest in Africa after Nigeria, would

break communion with the New Hampshire diocese and refuse to recognize "that

man as a bishop."

Among church leaders, the lone conciliatory voice from this continent came from

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, head of South Africa's Anglican church. South

Africa is considered a haven, of sorts, for gays and lesbians in Africa, who

face prosecution and scorn from Algeria to Zimbabwe.

"We would like to congratulate Gene Robinson and pray for him," Mr. Ndungane

said, noting that each province of the Anglican church is autonomous.

But such remarks drew condemnation from conservative church leaders, who said

there was no room for compromise on an issue like homosexuality. A leader of

the African Christian Democratic Party in South Africa, Louis Green, said Mr.

Ndungane and others who support the gay bishop are in need of "spiritual

guidance and biblical insight."

"Although God loves everyone, he does not condone sinful behavior," Mr. Green

told the South African Press Association. "The Bible equates homosexuality with

perversity and as Christians we cannot interpret God's word to suit modern


On the wider question of whether gays ought to be allowed to marry or enter the

priesthood, Nigeria's Anglicans have been unequivocal in their opposition.

"We totally reject and renounce this obnoxious attitude and behavior," the

church said in a statement issued last month.

"It is devilish and satanic. It comes directly from the pit of hell. It is an

idea sponsored by Satan himself and being executed by his followers and

adherents who have infiltrated the church."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company



6. Episcopalians Consecrate First Openly Gay Bishop

By Jonathan Finer

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, November 3, 2003; Page A01

DURHAM, N.H., Nov. 2 -- The Rev. V. Gene Robinson was consecrated Sunday as the

first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, in a grand ceremony here

shadowed by protests outside and a pointed rebuke during the service of his

sexual orientation and suitability to join the church's highest ranks.

Robinson's elevation, which some conservative Episcopalians have said could

cause a schism in the church, was sealed when more than 50 bishops gathered

before more than 3,000 worshipers at the University of New Hampshire ice hockey

arena and placed their hands on his head while he knelt before Presiding Bishop

Frank T. Griswold.

Moments later, in his first remarks as New Hampshire's new bishop, Robinson

spoke emotionally.

"You cannot imagine what an honor it is that you have called me," he said, his

voice breaking as he reminded those assembled that "there are people --

faithful, wonderful, Christian people -- for whom this is a moment of great

pain, confusion and anger."

The church must remain "hospitable, loving and caring to them in every way we

can possibly muster," he added. "And if they must leave, they will always be

welcomed back into our fellowship."

Robinson was enthusiastically cheered throughout most of the late afternoon

service. But when Griswold asked worshipers "if any of you know any reason why

we should not proceed," three people spoke in opposition to his consecration.

"It breaks my heart to be here," said the Rev. Earle Fox of Pittsburgh before

graphically describing sexual acts "engaged in by homosexuals." Griswold then

interrupted Fox, telling him to "spare us the details."

Two speakers affiliated with the conservative American Anglican Council then

addressed the service. Meredith Harwood of Ashland, N.H., said: "We must not

proceed with this terrible and unbiblical mistake which will not only rupture

the Anglican Communion, it will break God's heart."

A statement signed by about three dozen Episcopalian bishops was then read by

Suffragan Bishop David Bena of Albany. It said that Robinson's "chosen

lifestyle is incompatible with Scripture and the teaching of this church."

The last two speakers then lowered their heads and walked out of the ceremony

with a half-dozen others before making their way about a mile down the road to

Durham Evangelical Church. A few hundred Episcopalians were gathered there for

an "alternative service" organized by the American Anglican Council.

In England, Rowan Williams, who as archbishop of Canterbury is the spiritual

leader of the Anglican Communion, said in a statement: "The divisions that are

arising are a matter of deep regret; they will be all too visible in the fact

that it will not be possible for Gene Robinson's ministry as a bishop to be

accepted in every province in the communion."

Robinson, 56, was elected to head the New Hampshire diocese in July and

confirmed by a national convention a month later. He has lived openly with a

man for almost 14 years, and is the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican

Communion, which includes 70 million members worldwide and about 2.3 million

Episcopalians in the United States.

In the hours leading up to the service, which began just after 4 p.m.,

protesters and supporters gathered outside the Whittemore Center Arena, where

the consecration ceremony was held.

Those attending the ceremony approached through a raucous sidewalk gauntlet

that included two anti-gay groups waving signs and shouting epithets, more than

200 University of New Hampshire students singing songs of support for Robinson,

a half-dozen satellite trucks and more than 200 members of the U.S. and

international media who were credentialed for the event.

Walking past a half-dozen bearded men who said they were from Littleton, N.H.,

but would not give their names, Joel Stanley of Berlin was handed a pamphlet.

It said, "Homosexuality is unlawful, ungodly, and unnatural perversion." He

crumpled it and dropped it on the ground.

"A few years ago, I might have been right there with them," Stanley, 56, said

of the protesters. "But I got out and saw a bit of the world and realized I

needed to change, the church needed to change. I came because I am proud of

what [Robinson] is doing."

Dozens of university police and reinforcements from Durham and other nearby

towns kept the various groups apart and the walkway to the arena clear,

repeatedly using a bullhorn to warn that those who got out of hand would be


Resounding notes from a bell choir began the formal proceedings, followed by

fanfare from a wind ensemble, before a 300-voice choir launched into "The

Church's One Foundation," a hymn proclaiming the church's enduring unity when

"by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed."

After the objections were raised, Griswold thanked attendees "for bringing

their concerns before us." But he also seemed to make a case for unity when he

related a story of a primate who told him that "the Holy Spirit can do

different things in different places," adding, "That is precisely what we are

doing here."

Robinson received a more effusive endorsement from the Rev. Douglas Theuner,

who he is replacing. Concluding a humorous and wide-ranging address that

lightened the mood in the arena, Theuner told Robinson that his consecration is

not the defining battle in the history of the church that some have made it out

to be.

"When a young man unsure of his sexual orientation reads 'The Episcopal Church

Welcomes You' on a sign outside the church and enters that church, that's a

defining moment in Christian life," he said.

Participating in the ceremony were members of Robinson's family, including his

partner, Mark Andrews. He served as a presenter and helped Robinson collect his

new vestments.

"It was an absolutely spectacular occasion," said Fred Moore, 78, of Hanover,

N.H., who served as an usher. "Valid objections were raised, eloquently, and we

listened to them, although most of us disagree. It was a landmark day and I was

honored to be part of it."

But the mood was more somber at an evening news conference after the

alternative service.

The Rev. Kendall Harmon of the Diocese of South Carolina said that conservative

Episcopalians would not recognize Robinson's elevation. "We are grieved. I am

personally grieved. The diocese of New Hampshire has not allowed those who

disagree a place at the table," he said.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company



November 3, 2003

7. Openly Gay Man Is Made a Bishop


DURHAM, N.H., Nov. 2 X With the ceremonial laying on of hands by a cluster of

bishops, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson was consecrated the next bishop of New

Hampshire and the first openly gay prelate in the Episcopal Church U.S.A. on

Sunday, laying the groundwork for a split in the American church and a break

with fellow Anglican churches abroad.

In a ceremony both solemn and celebratory, Bishop Robinson accepted his

bishop's stole and chasuble from his parents, the gold miter for his head from

his two daughters and his partner, and his shepherd's crook from his

predecessor, Bishop Douglas E. Theuner of New Hampshire.

The nearly 4,000 people in an arena at the University of New Hampshire rose to

their feet, applauding, cheering and whistling. After Bishop Robinson quieted

them, he said, "It's not about me; it's about so many other people who find

themselves at the margins."

Addressing the crowd, he said, "Your presence here is a welcome sign for those

people to be brought into the center."

The consecration went ahead despite warnings from the primates who lead

Anglican churches in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America that a gay bishop

would not be recognized in their churches, and would prompt them to break ties

X as soon as Monday X with their American affiliate, the Episcopal Church


The archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, released a statement on Sunday

night that acknowledged the Americans' right to choose their own bishops but

also lamented the Americans' disregard for the objections of their more

conservative church cousins in other parts of the world.

"The divisions that are arising are a matter of deep regret; they will be all

too visible in the fact that it will not be possible for Gene Robinson's

ministry as a bishop to be accepted in every province in the communion," the

archbishop said in his statement. "It is clear that those who have consecrated

Gene Robinson have acted in good faith on their understanding of what the

constitution of the American church permits. But the effects of this upon the

ministry and witness of the overwhelming majority of Anglicans particularly in

the non-Western world have to be confronted with honesty."

The controversy over homosexuality has sharpened a long-brewing power struggle

between the more established branches of the Anglican Communion, which include

the Church of England and the Episcopal Church U.S.A., and what were once the

mission churches in the developing world. The Anglican Communion includes about

70 million members throughout the world, only about 2.3 million of them

American. The church in Nigeria, with about 17 million members, has helped lead

the objections to a gay bishop.

Nevertheless, the consecration was a vindicating moment for many Episcopalians

who have long hoped the church would formally acknowledge the many gay men and

lesbians who are priests, deacons and laypeople.

Stephanie Spellers, who attended the consecration with a group of fellow

students from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., said:

"Especially for me as an African-American, I am pretty sensitive to people

saying you don't have a place in the church. God makes holy what people shove

away, and I'm here just to celebrate that."

But for many others, the consecration will be remembered as a painful moment in

which their church decided to endorse sin. At an appointed moment during the

ceremony, the crowd was asked if there were any objections to Bishop Robinson's

installation. A laywoman from New Hampshire, a priest from Pittsburgh and a

bishop from Albany stepped to the microphone one by one.

The priest, the Rev. F. Earle Fox, read an explicit list of what he said were

the sexual practices of gay men, but was interrupted by the official leading

the consecration, Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold of the Episcopal Church.

Proceeding with his speech, Father Fox concluded that people who are "made in

God's loving image would not engage in or bless or consecrate such behavior."

The layperson, Meredith Harwood, a parishioner at St. Mark's Church in Ashland,

N.H., said, "We must not proceed with this terrible and unbiblical mistake,

which will not only rupture the Anglican Communion; it will break God's heart."

And Suffragan Bishop David Bena of the Diocese of Albany said he carried

greetings from 36 other bishops in the United States and Canada who objected to

Bishop Robinson's installation.

The dissenting Episcopalians then filed silently out of the arena and left to

join a prayer service at a nearby evangelical church.

Bishop Griswold, leading the consecration, thanked "our brothers and sisters in

Christ for bringing their concerns before us." But, he said, "The bases of

their objections put forward are well known and I think have been considered."

He mentioned that Bishop Robinson had been elected by the Diocese of New

Hampshire in June and approved by the general convention of the Episcopal

Church in August.

Bishop Griswold acknowledged that the move could cause divisions in his church

and in the Anglican Communion, but he said that what holds the church together

is more fundamental than one bishop.

"As Anglicans we're learning to live the mystery of communion at a much deeper

level," he said.

The schism is unlikely to be total, those on all sides agree. Both the

Episcopal Church and the churches opposed to homosexuality are expected to

remain in the same Anglican family, but as feuding siblings. For example, at

future gatherings of bishops, Bishop Robinson may be invited, but may not be

allowed to take communion from bishops in provinces that have broken with the

American church.

"It means you come to the family dinner table but you don't eat," said the Rev.

Canon Kendall Harmon, a priest from South Carolina who has helped unite

opponents to Bishop Robinson in the United States and abroad. "Anyone who

belongs to a family can tell you that's pretty serious."

He said that more than half of the 38 primates who lead Anglican provinces

around the world would issue a statement as early as Monday declaring that they

are in a state of "broken or impaired communion" with the American church.

Outside the arena, a small group of antigay protesters who held signs that said

"God Hates Fags" faced off against a far larger crowd of supporters, among them

many students and members of other churches.

Suzanne Filippone of South Berwick, N.H., held a hand-lettered poster saying,

"Christianity Is Tolerance."

"Homosexuality is something that exists within the church already, and I think

it's wonderful that he has decided to confront it and step forward," she said

of Bishop Robinson.

Standing apart from both demonstrations, Abraham Piol said he straddled two

cultures that enabled him to understand both perspectives. Mr. Piol, a student

at the University of New Hampshire, said he was from Sudan and had been brought

up in the Anglican Church.

"The American people understand that sexual orientation exists, but that's not

the case with my people in Africa," he said.

Mr. Piol said he wished the Episcopalians in New Hampshire had considered the

sensitivities of the Anglicans overseas.

"They did not see the interests of the whole world. They thought only of their

own interests," he said. "I have my faith as a Christian, but I really am

worried about the future of this church."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company



The Episcopal Church, USA



8. Amid cheers and protests, Robinson consecrated in Diocese of New Hampshire

Episcopal News Service



By: James Solheim

Posted: 11/2/2003

The Diocese of New HampshireXand the Episcopal ChurchXhas a new bishop. The

Rev. Gene Robinson was consecrated Sunday afternoon, November 2, in a

three-hour service at the Whittemore Center at the University of New Hampshire

in Durham.

A congregation estimated at almost 3,000 braved the fall drizzle, and

submitted to intense security procedures behind cordons of police, to join in

consecrating the Anglican Communions first openly gay bishop. In a glorious

mixture of music, wise and humorous words addressed to the new bishop, the

church welcomed the 993rd bishop in the American succession.

Yet the controversy surrounding Robinsons overwhelming election last June, and

the debate at this summers General Convention before he received the consents

of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops, seeped into the service.

As the liturgy unfolded, everyone waited for the moment early in the service,

after testimonials that Robinson had been duly and lawfully elected, when

Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold asks if anyone in the congregation know any

reason why we should not proceed.

As several groups came forward to make formal protests, Griswold asked the

congregation to listen with courtesy and respect and avoid any demonstrations

for or against the statements.

Threats to Anglican unity

The Rev. Earle Fox of Pittsburgh said, It breaks my heart to be here. He said

that Christians must condemn homosexual behavior and then he began to describe

that behavior in lurid detail. Griswold asked him to spare us the details.

Then Meredith Harwood from Orford, New Hampshire, said that sexual activity

outside of marriage is contrary to Gods will, adding that if we go forward

the Anglican family will be torn apart.

The Bishop David Bena of Albany then stepped forward and read a statement

signed by 36 bishops who said that to press forward with this consecration

will be to turn our backs on Almighty God. This is the defiant and divisive act

of a deaf church. The clear teaching of Holy Scripture in both testaments

without exception is that sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong for the

people of God, yet we are deaf to the Bible. The vast majority of Anglicans

worldwide have told us not to take this step which many of them see as a

scandal yet we are deaf to their cries. Again and again a significant number of

our ecumenical partners have asked us to step back from this plunge into

unrighteousness and their words have gone unheeded.

Griswold then said that, while he welcomed the objections from brothers and

sisters, Were learning to live the mystery of communion at a deeper level

and the consecration would proceed. He then asked the congregation, Is it your

will that we ordain Gene a bishop and the response, That is our will almost

took the roof off the hockey arena.

A symbol of unity like never before

In his sermon, Bishop Douglas Theuner of New Hampshire, who will retire in

March and turn his responsibilities over to Robinson, had a few things to say

about the office of bishop. After noting that no doubt this is the largest

gathering of Episcopalians in the history of the state of New Hampshire, he

warned that the burden you are about to assume is a very heavy one.

Christs whole ministry was dedicated to the outcast and the marginalized,

Theuner said. And his wrath was directed at the religious establishment of his

day. He said that Robinson will stand as a symbol of unity in a way none of

the rest of us can, in a way not found in the councils of the church before.

Because of your presence, the episcopate will be more a symbol of unity than

it has ever been.

As Robinson stood, Theuner urged him to seek what I consider the most elusive

of all Christian virtuesXhumility. Dont let your great gifts set you apart

from your brothers and sisters.

After receiving the symbols of his office, the presiding bishop presented the

new bishop to the congregation. Choking for a few moments with the emotion of

the moment, Robinson said that the occasion was not about meXits about so

many people at the margins. Your presence here today is an invitation to them

to move to the center.

In a plea for reconciliation, Robinson added that there are many faithful,

wonderful Christian people for whom this is a time of great pain, confusion and

anger. God is served by our being loving to them. In reference to the crush of

media covering the consecration, Robinson said that the eyes of the world are

upon us. We couldnt buy this kind of publicity so lets use it for God. So

many people dont know the love of God so lets tell them about how God has

saved us by reaching out to all who are hungry for God.

Reactions continue

In a statement released from Lambeth Palace at the end of the consecration,

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said, "The divisions that are arising

are a matter of deep regret; they will be all too visible in the fact that it

will not be possible for Gene Robinson's ministry as a bishop to be accepted in

every province in the communion.

"It is clear that those who have consecrated Gene Robinson have acted in good

faith on their understanding of what the constitution of the American church

permits. But the effects of this upon the ministry and witness of the

overwhelming majority of Anglicans particularly in the non-western world have

to be confronted with honesty.

"The autonomy of Anglican provinces is an important principle. But precisely

because we rely on relations more than rules, consultation and interdependence

are essential for our health.

"The Primates Meeting last month expressed its desire to continue as "a

communion where what we hold in common is much greater than that which divides

us". We need now to work very hard to giving new substance to this, and to pray

for wisdom, patience and courage as we move forward."

Stunning arrogance

The American Anglican Council (AAC), an umbrella organization of conservatives

that has strongly opposed the consecration, quickly issued a statement that

said: Today is a grievous day in the history of our Church. Heresy has been

held up as Holy. Blasphemy has been redefined as blessing. The hope of the

transforming love of Jesus Christ has been denied. Holy Scripture has been

abandoned and sin celebrated over sanctification. The arrogance of the leaders

of the Diocese of New Hampshire and the Episcopal Church is nothing less than


The time has come. Our family is now split and the whole cloth of the Anglican

Communion is torn. Realignment has begun.

At the same time, Bishop Carolyn Irish Tanner was one of the first bishops to

issue a statement. She said that, "Because of Robinson's homosexual orientation

and partnership there has since been an escalation of angry rhetoric by those

in this country and abroad who seem to be strategizing for schism, as they have

threatened to do for several years. In fact, by claims for a singular

orthodoxy, recommended breaches in diocesan and provincial integrity, the

diversion of financial support for the Episcopal Church USA, and planning for

separate enclaves or parallel communions of like-minded people, it appears that

they want to create a whole new church, one very different from traditional


"Our church is, and has always been, the most comprehensive of Christian

families, because we have sought to embrace theological and cultural diversity

of the kind that has sometimes fractured other Protestant churches. Presently

the issue of homosexuality has put us on a global and very public stage, but

that appears to be the really new element in our situation, not the challenge

of abiding in our differences. Indeed, more than abiding.

© 2003, The Episcopal Church, USA. Episcopal News Service content may be

reprinted without permission as long as credit is given to ENS.


James Solheim

Director, Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Jan Nunley

Deputy Director, Episcopal News Service

Daphne Mack

News & Information Assistant, Office of Communications, Episcopal News Service




The Episcopal Church, USA



9. Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury following the consecration of

Canon Gene Robinson as Bishop-coadjutor of New Hampshire

Anglican Communion News Service



By: ACNS Source: Lambeth Palace

Posted: 11/2/2003

[ACNS Source: Lambeth Palace] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams,

has issued a statement following the consecration of Canon Gene Robinson as

bishop coadjutor of New Hampshire. The text is below.

"It was recognised fully at last month's meeting of Anglican leaders that the

consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop in New Hampshire would have very

serious consequences for the cohesion of the Anglican Communion. That meeting

requested the setting up of a Commission which would examine these consequences

in depth. Last week the membership of that group was announced and I look

forward to being in close touch with it as its work develops.

"The meeting also encouraged me to be in discussion with the leaders of the

provinces concerned about provisions made for those alienated by decisions

which appear to go against Catholic order or biblical teaching. Such discussion

has already begun.

"The divisions that are arising are a matter of deep regret; they will be all

too visible in the fact that it will not be possible for Gene Robinson's

ministry as a bishop to be accepted in every province in the communion.

"It is clear that those who have consecrated Gene Robinson have acted in good

faith on their understanding of what the constitution of the American church

permits. But the effects of this upon the ministry and witness of the

overwhelming majority of Anglicans particularly in the non-western world have

to be confronted with honesty.

"The autonomy of Anglican provinces is an important principle. But precisely

because we rely on relations more than rules, consultation and interdependence

are essential for our health.

"The Primates meeting last month expressed its desire to continue as "a

communion where what we hold in common is much greater than that which divides

us". We need now to work very hard to giving new substance to this, and to pray

for wisdom, patience and courage as we move forward."

© 2003, The Episcopal Church, USA. Episcopal News Service content may be

reprinted without permission as long as credit is given to ENS.




10. Episcopalians Consecrate Openly Gay Bishop

By Larry B. Stammer

Times Staff Writer

November 3, 2003

DURHAM, N.H. X The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest, was

consecrated Sunday as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire X a break with 2,000

years of Christian tradition that could split the worldwide Anglican Communion.


Robinson's elevation to one of the highest offices within the Episcopal Church

has been hailed by supporters as a breakthrough for the inclusion of gays and

lesbians, and decried by opponents as a precursor to division. It has become

the focus of an international theological struggle in which sharply opposing

views on homosexuality and differing interpretations of Scripture have pushed

the church to the edge of schism.

But on Sunday, as an estimated 2,500 gathered at the University of New

Hampshire's Whittemore Center Arena here, the controversy came down to a

single, indelible gesture that grafted Robinson X the son of Kentucky

sharecroppers X into, according to the liturgy, "the faith of patriarchs,

prophets, apostles and martyrs, and those of every generation who have looked

to God in hope."

In an ancient ceremony, Robinson, 56, knelt before a makeshift altar. He was

encircled by eight consecrating bishops in flowing vestments of white and gold,

led by the Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, presiding bishop and primate of the

Episcopal Church.

Placing their hands on Robinson's head, the bishops repeated the words of

consecration by invoking God: "Therefore, Father, make Gene a bishop in your


Robinson's companion of 15 years, Mark Andrew, and the bishop's two adult

daughters, Jamee and Ella, then presented him with a gold miter X the headdress

symbolizing his new office. Robinson's former wife, Isabella McDaniel, was

among those officially presenting Robinson to the consecrating bishops.

It was a moment that many Anglicans feared could be the final theological

tremor opening an unbridgeable chasm separating liberals from conservatives.

The new bishop, his voice breaking, acknowledged that his consecration has

brought both joy and pain to many in the church.

He told the audience gathered for the ceremony that their presence was "a

welcome sign" for gays and lesbians to be brought into the church.

Then Robinson reached out to opponents: "There are faithful, wonderful

Christian people for whom this is a moment of great pain and confusion and

anger. And our God will be served if we are hospitable and loving and caring

toward them in every way we can possibly muster. They must know that if they

must leave, they will always be welcomed back into our fellowship."

Minutes after Robinson was officially installed, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan

Williams, who two weeks ago had urged Robinson to step back for the sake of

unity, issued a statement from London.

"The divisions that are arising are a matter of deep regret; they will be all

too visible in the fact that it will not be possible for Gene Robinson's

ministry as a bishop to be accepted in every province in the communion,"

Williams said.

Williams, the spiritual head of the worldwide Anglican Communion X of which the

2.3-million-member Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch X summoned his 37 fellow

primates to London last month for an emergency summit. At that time, the church

leaders said some of them would probably sever ties with the American church if

Robinson were consecrated. But they stopped short of fulfilling conservatives'

request that the Episcopal Church be ejected from the 77-million-member

worldwide communion, and acknowledged that they had no power to stop Robinson's


While there are other gay bishops in the Episcopal Church, none publicly

disclosed their sexual orientation before they were elevated to the high


In the United States, many conservative Episcopalians have united behind the

banner of the American Anglican Council and are moving toward an as-yet

undefined "realignment" of the church.

The service Sunday was punctuated by three official protests, as permitted by

church custom.

"This consecration poses a dramatic contradiction to the historic faith and

discipline of the church," Assistant Bishop David Bena of Albany, N.Y., said on

behalf of 29 Episcopal bishops. "We also declare our grief at the actions of

those who are engaging in this schismatic act."

At one point during his official protest, the Rev. F. Earle Fox of Oxon, N.H.,

became so explicit in describing sex acts that Griswold interrupted him and

directed him to stick to the substance of his complaint.

A handful of protesters demonstrated in the rain outside the arena. One group

from Flushing, N.Y., parked a black van nearby with a hand-painted poster on

the side that said: "Anglican Diocese of New Hampshire: You parade your sin

like Sodom."

Security was tight, with police on horseback, plainclothes officers and

contraband-sniffing dogs. All those entering the arena, including purple-vested

bishops, had to pass through metal detectors. There have been numerous threats

against Robinson's life, a church spokesman said.

Conservative Episcopalians held an opposing service at a nearby evangelical


Moments after the formal protests, the congregation was asked by Griswold if it

was their will that Robinson be ordained. "That is our will," they shouted.

Asked if they would uphold him as bishop, they repeated loudly, "We will."

For Robinson's friends and supporters X including 44 other bishops and hundreds

of priests, deacons and lay people X Sunday was a time to rejoice. As the

now-vested bishop was formally introduced to the congregation, cheers and

applause echoed through the arena.

Seated in the audience, a gay couple joined in the celebration. "I think a

terrific thing is happening today, and that reflects the message of Jesus,

which was inclusive," said Andrew Malinowski of Cambridge, Mass. Beside him sat

his partner of three years, Brian VanBuren.

The Rev. Susan Russell X president of Integrity, the church's national gay and

lesbian advocacy group X compared Robinson's consecration to the church's

then-controversial decision in the 1970s to become the first in the Anglican

Communion to ordain women. Robinson's elevation, many of his supporters

predicted, would win converts among gay men and lesbians who have felt

alienated by churches.

But the celebration was expected to be short-lived.

One conservative theologian, Robert Gagnon of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary,

called the homosexual controversy "the greatest crisis faced by the church

since the Reformation."

As early as today, some Anglican primates from Africa, South America and

Southeast Asia said they would declare themselves, at the very least, in

"impaired communion" with any U.S. Episcopal bishop who consented to Robinson's

confirmation. They also said they would not recognize Robinson as a bishop.

They argue that, for many of them, acceptance of homosexuals in the church not

only runs counter to biblical morality, but also puts them in danger in

countries where homosexuality remains taboo based on cultural and religious

views, among them Islam.

As many as 10 U.S. Episcopal dioceses could attempt to separate from the

national Episcopal Church. Several have passed resolutions condemning the

national church's tacit approval of same-sex blessings and Robinson's


Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times



11. Episcopal Bishop Plans Ritual for Same-Sex Unions

By Caryle Murphy

Sunday, November 2, 2003; Page C05

Bishop John Bryson Chane, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, is

planning to develop an optional liturgical rite that diocesan clergy could use

to bless same-sex unions.

"We're creating a resource for people inclined to do these blessings," said

Chane's spokesman, Jim Naughton. "We are not shopping it around, putting it in

people's faces saying, 'You must use this.' "

Chane has not appointed the committee that will develop the rite, Naughton


The bishop's plans come on the heels of a resolution adopted at the

denomination's General Convention this summer that says blessings of same-sex

relationships are "within the bounds of our common life."

Even before the convention vote, several clergy members in the Washington

Diocese -- which covers the District and the Maryland counties of Montgomery,

Prince George's, Charles and St. Mary's -- had blessed such unions.

Naughton stressed that blessing a same-sex union is not the same thing as

performing a marriage ceremony. "We make a very large distinction between

marriage and unions," he said. "Marriage is a sacrament, and blessings of

same-sex unions are not sacraments. . . . We are blessing these people's


Chane's position on welcoming homosexuals into the church was well-known before

he became bishop of the diocese in June 2002, Naughton said, noting that the

bishop had publicly spoken of the need for the church to be more open on the

issue. The bishop personally blessed a same-sex partnership once, Naughton

said, when a lesbian couple asked him to do so 25 years ago.

Bruce Mason, spokesman for the American Anglican Council, an umbrella group for

"biblically orthodox" Episcopalians, said he was not surprised by Chane's

intention to formulate the blessing rites.

"When the General Convention decided to move away from biblical truths, it

opened the door for anything goes in the Episcopal Church," said Mason.

He said such rites are "the wrong direction for the church" because they send

the message that "same-sex relationships are somehow looked upon favorably by

God, and that's not the case."

Chane also will be among the more than 50 Episcopal bishops attending today's

formal consecration of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire,

the first openly gay Episcopal clergyman to hold the position of bishop.

The General Convention's decision to affirm Robinson is opposed by conservative

Episcopalians and threatens to divide the worldwide Anglican Communion, the

global organization of more than 70 million members with which the Episcopal

Church USA is affiliated.

Chane was among those who affirmed Robinson's election on Aug. 5 in a 62 to 43


© 2003 The Washington Post Company



November 3, 2003


The Volatile Notion of a Married Jesus


Half a dozen religious leaders joined David Westin, the president of ABC News,

and others from the network and the press for lunch on the 22nd floor of ABC

building on 66th Street in Manhattan late last week. Mr. Westin wore a sharp

suit, as did some members of the clergy; others had dressed casually. Many were

diffident. Some were quietly furious.

Part symposium and part focus group, the meeting had been convened to discuss

"Jesus, Mary and da Vinci," tonight's ABC News special; the show is a woolly

and underthought treatment of the religious sophistry in "The Da Vinci Code,"

the best-selling novel by Dan Brown. The producers, along with the show's

on-camera reporter, Elizabeth Vargas, were troubleshooting. After the meeting

on Thursday, they rushed to the editing room to make changes to the show.

Though set mostly in modern Europe, Mr. Brown's thriller centers on Leonardo da

Vinci's role in maintaining a secret from biblical times. In pursuing what it

calls the "claims" of Mr. Brown's fiction, the ABC special, which the group on

the 22nd floor had seen before the meeting, bares Leonardo's so-called secret:

Mary Magdalene, far from being a prostitute, was the rightful wife of Jesus;

Mary and Jesus had a child and heirs; and finally, the heirs, whose existence

threatened church dogma, were protected by a clandestine priory that counted

Leonardo among its members.

Soon after the floor was opened for questions, Nikki Stephanopoulos, the

communications director for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, whose

son is the ABC News correspondent George Stephanopoulos, complained that the

voluptuous, ravenous images of Mary Magdalene on display in the documentary

bore little resemblance to Eastern representations of the Magdalene. (Sexy

music by Me'shell Ndegeocello accompanies one sequence of semi-nude pictures on

the show.)

As a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, Ms. Stephanopoulos also objected to

the show's restrictive use of the word "orthodox." In an interview, Ms. Vargas

uses the word to denote the repressive church hierarchy in the Middle Ages.

Joseph De Feo, policy analyst for the Catholic League, then asked the show's

producers why they hadn't solicited opinions from Roman Catholics other than

the Rev. Richard McBrien, a priest and theology professor at the University of

Notre Dame who, Mr. De Feo said, is known chiefly for his far-out views and his

"shtick" about Mary Magdalene's primacy among Jesus's apostles.

Rudy Bednar, an executive producer at ABC, responded that the Catholic view had

been expressed in the documentary by various evangelicals the producers had

consulted. Mr. De Feo, perhaps bridling at the idea that arch-Protestants

should represent the opinions of Catholics, shot Mr. Bednar a look of


As several people mused about whether a married Jesus could still be divine X

the consensus was that he could X the subject of the documentary almost seemed

to stymie further discussion.

Its logic is of an especially enervating kind. Like a seatmate on a train who

voices ardent ideas about Procter & Gamble's satanism, the ABC special is both

amusingly audacious and profoundly irritating. If you're not freshly familiar

with the invariably eclectic materials under discussion, you can express only

general skepticism, which makes you a sucker. You're suddenly in the camp of

the uptight "orthodox," those joyless suppressors of truth who enjoy none of

the pleasures of heresy. The more attractive option may be to keep quiet.

On the other hand, many theories advanced in the ABC special are not ultimately

endorsed by it. ("Not all the claims made in the book are true, and some have

been made before, but there is some surprising truth," is how Ms. Vargas puts

it.) Early in the show, too, Ms. Vargas asks a series of questions that begin

with, "What if we told you," which suggests that the ideas that follow are

being proposed so that viewers might entertain them as beliefs X and thus be

entertained, while not informed. This is a curious approach for network news.

To establish and then half-dismantle its arguments, the show relies on

interviews with Mr. Brown, whose novel is simply called a book in the voiceover

and who is treated as a historian; Umberto Eco, the Italian semiotician and

novelist; Elaine Pagels, the Princeton professor of religion; Karen King, a

professor at the Harvard Divinity School; Robin Griffith-Jones, an Anglican

rector in London; Margaret Starbird, an independent scholar; and Daryl Bock and

Jeff Bingham, two Evangelical scholars in Dallas.

These experts have divergent reputations. Ms. Pagels, for example, wrote "The

Gnostic Gospels" in 1979; that book is still considered the gold-standard

explication of the way the Gnostics illuminated the power struggles of the

early church. By contrast, Henry Lincoln, a chief source for "The Da Vinci

Code," is an author of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail," a weird farrago about Jesus

and the Knights Templar.

The juxtaposition of ivory-tower erudition and antic amateurism creates odd

effects. Did Ms. Pagels know that her statements would be marshaled in the

service of an argument that, at its outer reaches, contends that the pregnant

Mary Magdalene was the holy grail, the lost vessel of Jesus's blood? And

further, that the figure in Leonardo's "Last Supper," generally taken for the

effeminate apostle John, is none other than Mary Magdalene, leaning away from

Jesus in a telltale "V" that symbolizes her femininity?

More important, how did ABC manage to persuade this group to come together to

use a popular thriller as a pretext for a serious discussion of religious


Individual motivations seem to surface in the show itself. Ms. King and Ms.

Starbird are eager to make a case for the importance of Mary Magdalene in the

early church and, more generally, to elucidate the ways that women have been

denied access to power and had their reputations smeared for seeking it.

In contrast, Mr. McBrien and Mr. Griffith-Jones appear determined to advertise

Jesus as a sexual man. And by arguing that Jesus was heterosexual and

monogamous X married, even X they offer a new portrait of him that may be more

palatable to some contemporary Christians who, following sex scandals in the

Catholic Church, now find the idea of a celibate priesthood unnerving. In the

view of the priests consulted for the ABC documentary, Jesus wasn't an asexual

Jewish radical who consorted with a prostitute and a gang of guys, one of whom

was an androgyne; instead, he was a normal family man.

"Jesus, Mary and da Vinci" has, however briefly, provided common cause for

feminists and Catholics who are discouraged. Formally, it mixes fable with

history in an absurdist way that, while indecent as documentary, can

nonetheless activate the intellectual immune system in viewers, implicating

them in the drama of historical debate. That's an exciting aim for network


On this note, a sensible summation comes from Ms. King at the end of the hour:

"Sometimes religion is presented as something that's fixed and stable. When you

have to accept it and reject it. But the fact is that religious traditions, and

certainly Christianity among them, are very diverse, very filled with

possibilities. And we need to take responsibilities for the kind of religion

that we make."

But others at the meeting missed the uplift of the day, and found the

implications of ABC's show unnerving. As the meeting broke up and participants

bussed their sodas and plastic plates, one minister grumbled that the last

thing he wanted to offer to his congregants was a married Jesus. Conceived that

way, Jesus's role as consoler of gay people, single people, widows and

widowers, as well as the lonely, would be diminished, he said.

Jesus with a wife also implies favoritism, someone else said. Wasn't he

supposed to love us all?

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company



November 3, 2003


The Big Chill at the Lab


A list of nearly 200 scientific researchers has been compiled and given to

federal officials by the Traditional Values Coalition, a conservative group

that goes wild over gay issues and federal funding of research related to human


The list, which has sent a chill through some researchers, is being used by the

coalition and its government allies in attempts to discredit the researchers

and challenge or revoke their federal grants. It's a sloppy, dangerous and

wildly inaccurate list, put together by people who are freaked out by the

content of the studies, and unconcerned about their value.

The targeted studies cover a wide range of topics related to health and

sexuality, including H.I.V. and AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and

adolescent sexual behavior.

The Web site of the Traditional Values Coalition is bizarrely fixated on sexual

matters. The banner headline on the home page the other day blared, "HOMOSEXUAL

URBAN LEGENDS: The Series . . ."

The site complained that "nearly $100 million has gone to research many

projects which reasonable people, even those with no particular religious or

political perspective, would view as prurient."

For a right-wing coalition to be hung up on these matters is one thing. But the

coalition's list, which includes some of the most respected scientists and

institutions in the country, is circulating among members of Congress and was

forwarded to the National Institutes of Health, which is responsible for

awarding the crucially important grants.

"It has a lot of people very nervous," said Dr. Thomas Coates, a professor in

the Division of Infectious Diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at

U.C.L.A. "People who have made a career out of this kind of research X well,

when you see your name on a list you wonder what's going to happen to your


"The list itself is less important than the context in which it's been

generated," said Dr. Judith Auerbach, a vice president of the American

Foundation for AIDS Research. Until recently Dr. Auerbach headed the Office of

AIDS Research at the National Institutes of Health.

"The context is that in recent months there have been a series of specific

inquiries to the N.I.H. from Congressional committee members, through their

staffs in particular, asking about specific grants and specific grantees based

apparently on the content of those grants."

The content is usually related to such matters as the AIDS virus, high-risk

sexual behavior and other topics linked in some way to sexuality.

"Those inquiries come in a very negative tone," said Dr. Auerbach. "And they

cast aspersions on the quality and the content of the science X from someone

who doesn't know how to conduct science, and is not a scientist. So the N.I.H.

has been put in the position frequently in the last year of having to

re-justify research that has already been peer-reviewed, approved and funded."

Science has to suffer when the know-nothings come traipsing through the

laboratories, infecting the research with their religious beliefs and political

ideologies. Andrea Lafferty is the executive director of the Traditional Values

Coalition, which she says represents more than 43,000 churches.

"What makes us unique among all the conservative groups," she said, "is that I

believe we truly represent the body of Christ."

Ms. Lafferty said she personally gave the list of scientific researchers to

Representative Billy Tauzin, a Louisiana Republican who is chairman of the

House Energy and Commerce Committee. One of its subcommittees has been

reviewing the awarding of grants by N.I.H.

"We never said any grant on there was bad," said Ms. Lafferty. But she said she

wanted to know why the grants were being funded, and why so many had to do with

H.I.V. and AIDS.

Ms. Lafferty acknowledged that her group has a problem with homosexuality.

"We're concerned that it's a behavior-based lifestyle, that you're not born

that way," she said.

She insisted that the coalition does not oppose research on H.I.V. and AIDS,

but added, "How many times do you have to study something to find out how to

stop the spread of AIDS?"

The public officials who got their hands on this sinister list could have

thrown it in the garbage. Instead, the list is circulating, like an insidious

disease, and some scientists are worried that they are not immune.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company



14. A Gay Teen's Moment of Truth

By Jose Antonio Vargas

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, November 3, 2003; Page C10

Isat in the back of Room 102, alone in the last row of chairs, scribbling

gibberish on binder paper.

It was spring; I was a junior at Mountain View High School, an hour south of

San Francisco. Mr. Farrell had just shown us a documentary on Harvey Milk, the

first openly gay San Francisco city council member who was shot and killed in

November 1978. Then the inevitable class discussion began.

I felt uncomfortable. It was almost two years after Ellen DeGeneres graced the

cover of Time magazine and just six months after Matthew Shepard's body was

found hanging from an icy fence in Wyoming. Here I was, sitting through first

period U.S. history, a group of about 25 students tangoing around the subject.

I raised my hand that Thursday morning, but got scared and put it down. I was

sweating. I raised my hand again.

Exactly how I worded these sentences -- "I'm sorry Harvey Milk got killed for

being gay . . . " and "I've been meaning to say this . . ." -- are now a blur.

Exactly how I said, "I'm gay," to the class escapes me.

But it was loud enough, clear enough, that Anna Perez, who sat in front, as she

almost always did, turned around. So did Ryan Malatesta, the star football

player, and Amanda Ibaraki, the girl with the quick smile. They looked

confused. Anna started to cry. She told the class her uncle is gay -- his

"roommate," her mother recently told her, is more than just a roommate. It was

then that I rushed to the boys' restroom, where I stayed until the bell rang.

The date: May 27, 1999.

My "coming out" -- a very curious phrase to me, seeming to imply that my

sexuality is naturally meant to be tucked away in a "closet" -- was something I

didn't anticipate. As long as I was with Patricia, whom I dated off and on

since we were in the seventh grade, I figured I didn't have to be gay. I could

sleep the feeling away. Hide from it. Give it time to die.

This wasn't a choice. It wasn't something I signed up for. And when I was ready

to finally admit it, I was sure my friends would run away, just as I did,

unwilling to face whatever lay ahead.

For some, being gay means having a political and social agenda, forever locked

in a left-leaning, ultraliberal perspective, a place where rainbow flags are

waved and pink triangles are worn. It means fitting into a stereotypical box

for others, a box created not just by gays themselves but by straights

struggling to understand them. Or, for many still, being gay means living

secret lives, marrying a woman and fathering children just to prove they're not

what they think they might be.

I'm not any of those three, for better or for worse. I couldn't control my

emotions that Thursday morning, just as I couldn't control how my friends and

family reacted to it.

My grandparents, both churchgoing Catholics, kicked me out of their house,

where I had lived since 1993. "I fear for you," my grandmother said the day

before I left. "Your soul will burn in hell." I ended up sleeping on the

couches of co-workers and friends but managed to survive, working part-time

jobs and, a few months later, renting a room at a distant relative's apartment.

My parents were overseas. My mother disowned me when I told her; my father

refused to talk about it. A few friends at school, the guys who spewed "fag"

carelessly, couldn't look at me the same way again.

I wasn't just Jose anymore. I was gay Jose.

The next school year, my senior year, was challenging. I was an active student:

sang in the choir, competed in speech and debate tournaments, edited the school

paper, served on student government. School, to me, was home. But there were

times when other students, especially the younger ones, would point and quietly

-- though often not quiet enough -- say, "That's the one," as if they've got me

figured out. Sometimes, I would smile and go my way. Sometimes, I'd approach

them and talk about it.

I never wanted my sexuality to be an issue. It was, and is, no one's business

but my own. I shouldn't have to explain it; I need not justify it. But it's

difficult to shut up and not address it when, like everyone else, I live my

life -- abnormal, immoral or disgraceful as it may be to some people.

"Why did you come out?" Brian, one of the self-described "band geeks" at

school, asked me. He was a sophomore then, two years younger than me and about

a foot taller.

"Because it's okay."

Brian came out when he was a junior. He was elected president of the school's

Gay Straight Alliance, which was formed in the fall of 2000, a semester after I

graduated. Brian invited me to speak at a lunch meeting.

Thirty-five students, a few of them gay, most of them not, attended. Pat

Hyland, the school principal, was there, as was Mr. Farrell, one of the group's

advisers. I was a student at San Francisco State University then, and worked

part-time for the San Francisco Chronicle. A wealthy couple (he a venture

capitalist, she an architect) decided to fund my college education -- they

heard about me from Rich Fischer, the school superintendent, who heard about me

from Hyland. In losing my family, I was blessed with a new one, some of them

teachers and administrators at Mountain View High School.

I stood in front of the group, hands folded, looking, as I remember, nervous.

A lot of questions were asked that day:

"What was it like to be the only openly gay person in school?"

"Did anyone ever call you names?"

But one, in particular, sticks with me.

I didn't know her name; she was skinny, short, with dark-rimmed glasses. "What

do you think being gay means?"

"Nothing." I was back in Room 102, the same room as the luncheon, again

declaring something true about myself. "It just is -- it's a part of me, not

everything that I am."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company



November 2, 2003

15. BOOK REVIEW: 'The Serenity Prayer': Among the Heathens



Faith and Politics in Times of Peace and War.

By Elisabeth Sifton.

367 pp. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. $26.95.

You can't get to Heath, a small hill town in northwestern Massachusetts,

without a very audible shifting of gears. The roads leading up from the

Deerfield River Valley are steep, and cars give off an overheated smell and a

sigh when they come to a stop in the high stillness. It is not a place people

pass through on their way somewhere. But it is a place that has drawn summer

people who had no idea they would keep coming back, or any idea how long and

deeply Heath would stay lodged in them. My parents drove up from Brooklyn to

spend their first August in a brown shingle house down the road from the town

center the summer I turned 1. On the back of the same closet door where they

measured their children year after year, my kids recently compared their

adolescent growth spurts to mine. If we didn't have Heath, I always wonder on

the rueful drive down the hill as we head home, where would we get our


People who keep going there, and people who come from there, sometimes call

themselves Heathens, a wry way of saying, I think, that something in the

bracing, brambly spirit of the region is like a heterodox religion. That the

place actually has a singular Protestant pedigree is not much discussed, in

keeping with the reticent style of a modest village on a hill. ''One pleasant

characteristic of Heath is that it has missed greatness, even by regional

standards,'' according to the official town chronicler, Edward Calver. ''All

the local horns are muted and the tune is always in a minor key.''

Elisabeth Sifton, the daughter of Heath's most renowned summer resident, who

was also 20th-century America's most thoughtful theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr,

goes ahead and toots her father's horn -- and Heath's -- in ''The Serenity

Prayer.'' But the tune of her keen ruminations on her childhood idyll, and on

the circle of socially activist soul mates who broke bread and sweat with her

father 60 years ago, can't help shifting into a minor key. Sifton embarked on

her album of (mostly) Protestant profiles in political and spiritual courage in

a wonderful essay in The Yale Review in 1998, before the ''drastic dark years

of this new century.'' Her memoir grew as religious fervor convulsed the globe,

and as her faith in political vision at home collapsed. The voice you hear

belongs to an embattled liberal holding fast to her ''Heath memories, which

keep alive my hope that America can regain the innate and lively decorum of a

truly secular community that respects truly religious people.'' Yet pessimism,

a Niebuhrian specialty, dapples her pages.

W. H. Auden once fondly asked his close friend and fellow expatriate Ursula

Niebuhr, Sifton's Anglo-Catholic mother, whether her summer respiratory

troubles might be caused not by Heath's meadow pollen but by ''too many

clerics?'' Between the mid-1930's and the mid-1950's, when the Niebuhrs headed

north from the pseudo-Gothic quadrangle of Union Theological Seminary in

Morningside Heights to the Stone Cottage, Heath was more than simply a rural

haven for the family, though it was that; Sifton lyrically conveys the

''austere, wind-swept sweetness'' and ''glorious sun-filled days'' that graced

her war-shadowed childhood and early adolescence there. Heath was also ''a hive

of integrationist, ecumenical and international church activity.''

Invitations from a ''fiercely radical-progressive'' Cambridge blue blood named

Ethel Paine Moors, eager for summer company with spunk, had brought an influx

of upstart pastors -- and along with them the ''firebrand'' Felix Frankfurter.

Though Episcopalians dominated, more than a few of them bigwigs, they ''weren't

in the least bishop-y.'' Angus Dun -- who as bishop of Washington in the 1940's

earned the epithet ''Black Angus'' from fellow Episcopalians aghast at his

efforts to integrate the National Cathedral in Washington -- once rode on a

Heath fair float dressed up (or rather down) as the Wild Man from Borneo.

''Parsonic pieties'' and pretentiousness got under the Heath dog collars.

''Unconventional iconoclasm and a radical devotion to social justice'' thrived,

along with ''gaiety and energy'' and ''religious modesty.'' It was a spirit

very congenial to the ''quasi-Congregational'' Niebuhr. (He actually belonged

to the Evangelical and Reformed Synod, which his German-American father had

helped nurture in the Middle West and which merged with the Congregational

Church in the 1940's.) Through the 1920's and into the grim 1930's, Niebuhr had

been preaching bristly sermons exhorting Americans to battle moral complacency,

bigotry and capitalist inequities, warning as he did so of the need for

humility. He had become, as one biographer has put it, ''a celebrity on the

Protestant circuit'' and, since he practiced what he preached, a phenomenally

busy man.

Try to lock the ''Christian dynamo in your house,'' Auden teased Ursula Niebuhr

during the wartime turmoil that unfolded over the course of their Heath

interlude. Sifton's collage -- a legendary book editor, she intercuts rural

scenes and portraits of Niebuhr's near and far-flung colleagues -- captures a

time of domestic as well as world crisis. As ready to puncture mainstream

Protestant sanctimony as he was to challenge conservative certainty, Niebuhr

emerged an itinerant apostle of ''pessimistic optimism,'' in the words of one

of his students, Robert McAfee Brown. Sifton focuses on her father's efforts to

rouse America from indifference to the mounting danger in Europe, which were

matched by his postwar calls to beware of American hubris. She skirts his

fervent liberal anti-Communism during the waning years of the Heath period.

Niebuhr was anything but a cozy father, it seems clear, yet she evokes a warm

family feeling among the company of uphill crusaders drawn to Heath to take a

breath -- and, in Niebuhr's case, to churn out books.

It was there on one summer Sunday in 1943 that he scribbled out a prayer that

serves as a leitmotif in his daughter's reflections. The man his daughter calls

a ''social-action machine'' was in many ways the last person you would expect

to have composed the ''Serenity Prayer,'' as the words he read in Heath's Union

Church have been known ever since they became (in simplified form) a mantra of

Alcoholics Anonymous. Most people have no idea that Niebuhr is its author, or

that it even has one. Many Roman Catholics assume St. Francis of Assisi wrote

the lines about wisely knowing when to work for change and when ''to accept

with serenity the things that cannot be changed.'' It especially galls Sifton,

whose father spoke out early and often against Christian myopia in Hitler's

Germany, that the wartime prayer has been ascribed to a mystical Swabian

Pietist and inscribed on a plaque at the Bundeswehr's cadet academy in Koblenz.


''My distaste for this misappropriation of a beautiful Heath prayer,'' she

acknowledges, ''is stronger than my father would have approved of, I imagine.''

Niebuhr, who died in 1971, never knew of its German fate, but Sifton bridles

that he modestly ''didn't fuss when the wordings were altered'' by A.A.,

reducing the prayer to what she considers a self-help bromide. It clearly riles

her, too, that his brand of tragic realism was mistaken by some for a spirit of

chastened resignation, which along with his anti-Communism won him a

neoconservative following miles apart from the ''small minority of intrepid

souls'' whom she celebrates. Careful reader of the original prayer, Sifton

finds in it her father's humble emphasis on how hard it is ''to know what one

should try to strive for, and what one must settle for.'' But Niebuhr's devoted

daughter also can't help feeling defiant as she claims him for the left-liberal

cause: looking back, she believes he and the social progressives who bustled in

and out of her childhood did know what to strive for -- and she knows her

father never settled down. The exhausting quest for ''collective betterment''

continued to drive him, even when he was disabled by strokes and had to abandon

remote Heath in the mid-1950's.

Sifton learned at his knee the importance of ''religious modesty'' and the

''perils and dangers of righteous indignation.'' But in an era of Republican

ascendancy, when ''often deranged 'faith-based' fantasies'' win converts and

sow contention at home and abroad, she can't resist some self-righteous fervor

herself -- stronger, I think she suspects, than her father might have approved

of. ''Certainly I know how hard, within himself, he struggled to stay clear of

what he knew to be an inevitable human sin, about which he preached so often:

that of believing that what you are doing is good, is right, is virtuous, when

of course you can't possibly judge this yourself.'' But a daughter can judge,

she is quite sure, and be forgiven.

Ann Hulbert is the author of ''Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century

of Advice About Children.''

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company


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