Perhaps in response to the Rick Warren kerfuffle, Obama has asked Gene Robinson, the bishop of New Hampshire, to give a prayer at an inaugural event.
Bishop Robinson advised Mr. Obama on gay rights issues during the campaign. He is the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, and his consecration in 2003 set off a growing rift in that church’s parent body, the Anglican Communion. Since then, Bishop Robinson has become an internationally known spokesman for gay rights — a hero to some and an object of scorn to others.
In a telephone interview on Monday, Bishop Robinson said that he believed his inclusion in inaugural events had been under consideration before the controversy erupted over Mr. Warren but that Mr. Obama and his team were also seeking to heal the pain that Mr. Warren’s selection had caused among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates.
“They called up and said this has actually been in the works for a long time,” Bishop Robinson said, “and at the same time, we understand that people in the L.G.B.T. community have been somewhat wounded by this choice, and it’s our hope that your selection will go a long way to heal those divides.”
“In many ways,” he added, “it just proves that Barack Obama is exactly who he says he was and would be as president, which is someone who is casting a wide net that will include all Americans.”
“I am very clear,” he said, “that this will not be a Christian prayer, and I won’t be quoting Scripture or anything like that. The texts that I hold as sacred are not sacred texts for all Americans, and I want all people to feel that this is their prayer.”
Robinson, who is openly gay, has been at the center of a split among the Anglican Communion. It’s more conservative congregations, specifically in places like Africa, oppose the church’s move to a more liberal liberal stance on homosexuality.