If you were channel surfing to catch HBO's inaugural concert coverage at the Lincoln Memorial where openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson delivered the invocation, you didn't see him. Remember, this was the supposed salve on the wound to the LGBT community for the upcoming high-profile appearance of Rick Warren at the actual inauguration on Tuesday, which will be seen by millions and will float out there on YouTube in perpetuity. I had no illusions that Robinson's appearance would reach the same level of exposure as Warren's, but damn -- no broadcast of it at all? That's just freaking rich.
Leah McElrath Renna at HuffPost reports that some fundies showed up to protest Robinson's appearance. These folks were "Brother Ruben and the Official Street Preachers" since they didn't even bother to come up with original signs.
With a diverse and otherwise joyous crowd of adults and children of all ages streaming by, the three protest participants shouted about hate, hell and "homo-sex" - using a megaphone to assert that "homosexuals are eternally damned" and "Jesus doesn't love homosexuals."
On its website, the group claims to "preach a loving message to sodomites. We tell them the truth, that unless they repent they shall likewise perish in Hell Fire!"
Kenny Yum of the Canada's National Post was liveblogging the event and reported that many there couldn't even hear Robinson (mic problems?) and were shouting "We can't hear you."
The exclusion from the broadcast was a decision made by the Obama Presidential Inaugural team, not the cable network, btw (AfterElton):
Contacted Sunday night by AfterElton.com concerning the exclusion of Robinson's prayer, HBO said via email, "The producer of the concert has said that the Presidential Inaugural Committee made the decision to keep the invocation as part of the pre-show." Uncertain as to whether or not that meant that HBO was contractually prevented from airing the pre-show, we followed up, but none of the spokespeople available Sunday night could answer that question with absolute certainty. However, it does seem that the network's position is that they had nothing to do with the decision.
Sarah Pulliam of Christianity Today did shoot video and posted it:
UPDATE (1/19. 3:30 PM ET): HBO, Presidential Inaugural Committee still pointing fingers over invisible Robinson invocation
Via Leah McElrath Renna @ HuffPost:
Coming on the heels of the controversy caused by selection of Rick Warren to deliver the Invocation at the Inauguration, the omission of the prayer delivered by openly-gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson from the broadcast of the pre-Inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial is creating a controversy of its own.
In a conversation with this writer, Jeff Cusson, Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs for HBO, confirmed that HBO was not involved in the decision to move Bishop Robinson's remarks to a time prior to the beginning of the actual broadcast:"HBO had no involvement in the scheduling of those who appeared as part of the televised event. You'll have to talk to PIC about all of the scheduling decisions. We had a set broadcast time and went forth accordingly."
I just received a statement from the Obama camp/Presidential Inaugural Committee:
"We had always intended and planned for Rt. Rev. Robinson's invocation to be included in the televised portion of yesterday's program. We regret the error in executing this plan – but are gratified that hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on the mall heard his eloquent prayer for our nation that was a fitting start to our event," said PIC communications director Josh Earnest.
Take that for what it's worth.
Bishop Robinson was on NPR's Talk of the Nation today. The audio, according to the web site, will be up around 6PM ET.
I thought I'd run some reactions from the blogosphere...
Lisa Derrick of La Figa:
I got off of the plane from LA to DC, rushed to my friend's house, ordered Chinese take out, tuned to HBO--and WTF?! They edited out Bishop Robinson! No Bishop Robinson?! Why? We can speculate, they can prevaricate, but they did this, and it sucks, and if this is act symbolizes the opening of Obama's administration, as handled by corporate media, America, we are fucked.
Jim Burroway, Box Turtle Bulletin:
[B]y pointing out that Rev. Robinson's invocation would come at the start of the HBO-aired live concert in front of one of America's best-loved memorials, this high-profile announcement was portrayed as a separate-but-almost-equal bookend to Warren's invocation at the Capital steps.
Well, except it turned out not to be nearly so equal. In yet another deep insult to injury, HBO did not air Rev. Robinson's invocation. The salve to the gay community meant to calm the outrage over Warren's selection was for naught.
Could it be that the American media has finally decided these public events should be 100% secular? Don't count on it, friends, because you know as well as I do that pop-pastor Rick Warren will be front and center and at full volume to kick off President-Elect Obama's formal Inauguration on Tuesday.
When you're throwing folks a bone it's a good idea to make sure they can, you know, see the bone.
A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire
Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009
Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.
O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…
Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.
Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.
Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.
Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.
Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.
Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.
And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.
Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.
Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.
Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.
Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.
Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.
Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.
And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.
Barack Obama's speech at the Lincoln Memorial:
I want to thank all the speakers and performers for reminding us, through song and through words, just what it is that we love about America. And I want to thank all of you for braving the cold and the crowds and traveling in some cases thousands of miles to join us here today. Welcome to Washington, and welcome to this celebration of American renewal.
In the course of our history, only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now. Our nation is at war. Our economy is in crisis. Millions of Americans are losing their jobs and their homes; they're worried about how they'll afford college for their kids or pay the stack of bills on their kitchen table. And most of all, they are anxious and uncertain about the future - about whether this generation of Americans will be able to pass on what's best about this country to our children and their children.
I won't pretend that meeting any one of these challenges will be easy. It will take more than a month or a year, and it will likely take many. Along the way there will be setbacks and false starts and days that test our fundamental resolve as a nation.
But despite all of this - despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead - I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure - that the dream of our founders will live on in our time.
What gives me that hope is what I see when I look out across this mall. For in these monuments are chiseled those unlikely stories that affirm our unyielding faith - a faith that anything is possible in America. Rising before us stands a memorial to a man who led a small band of farmers and shopkeepers in revolution against the army of an Empire, all for the sake of an idea. On the ground below is a tribute to a generation that withstood war and depression - men and women like my grandparents who toiled on bomber assembly lines and marched across Europe to free the world from tyranny's grasp. Directly in front of us is a pool that still reflects the dream of a King, and the glory of a people who marched and bled so that their children might be judged by their character's content. And behind me, watching over the union he saved, sits the man who in so many ways made this day possible.
And yet, as I stand here tonight, what gives me the greatest hope of all is not the stone and marble that surrounds us today, but what fills the spaces in between. It is you - Americans of every race and region and station who came here because you believe in what this country can be and because you want to help us get there.
It is the same thing that gave me hope from the day we began this campaign for the presidency nearly two years ago; a belief that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another and bring everyone together - Democrats, Republicans, and Independents; Latino, Asian, and Native American; black and white, gay and straight, disabled and not - then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearned for both, but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our union in the process.
This is what I believed, but you made this belief real. You proved once more that people who love this country can change it. And as I prepare to assume the presidency, yours are the voices I will take with me every day I walk into that Oval Office - the voices of men and women who have different stories but hold common hopes; who ask only for what was promised us as Americans - that we might make of our lives what we will and see our children climb higher than we did.
It is this thread that binds us together in common effort; that runs through every memorial on this mall; that connects us to all those who struggled and sacrificed and stood here before.
It is how this nation has overcome the greatest differences and the longest odds - because there is no obstacle that can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change.
That is the belief with which we began this campaign, and that is how we will overcome what ails us now. There is no doubt that our road will be long. That our climb will be steep. But never forget that the true character of our nation is revealed not during times of comfort and ease, but by the right we do when the moment is hard. I ask you to help me reveal that character once more, and together, we can carry forward as one nation, and one people, the legacy of our forefathers that we celebrate today.
Here's another photo of the sad sack homophobic protestors at the concert, courtesy of Lambda Rising:
The crowd that surrounded them -- which seemed to be mostly young straight guys -- delighted in chanting "Hate is not a family value" and "Homosex is in!" Some, noting the substantial girth of several of the protesters, chanted "Gluttony is a sin!" and others asked "Isn't that polyester you're wearing?"