On his excellent blog, News From Me, Mark Evanier discusses the 11 o’clock charges leveled at the Episcopalian nominee for bishop, the Rev. Gene Robinson. As anyone who’s glanced at a newspaper or newssite this past week or so knows, Robinson is about to become the first openly gay Episcopalian made bishop, an arguably historic moment for the gay rights movement.
Just as the vote was about to come down, the proceedings were put on hold so that the powers that be could examine two charges made against Robinson. The first, that he is connected to a group whose Web site can indirectly link users to pornography, is ably ridiculed by Evanier. The thrust of his quite right argument is that the site in question, which Robinson has nothing to do with, apart from originally founding the group whose site it is, is several links away from porn – and what web site isn’t “several links away” from porn?
The second charge concerned “inappropriate touching” of a man. Evanier digs up the following, from The San Diego Union Tribune, concerning this charge:
Scruton said he spoke with Lewis by phone Monday afternoon and Lewis told him that, at a public church event in November 1999, Robinson "put his left hand on the individual's arm and his right hand on the individual's upper back" as Robinson answered a question Lewis had asked. Scruton said the other encounter occurred when Lewis turned to make a comment to Robinson and the clergyman "touched the individual's forearm and back while responding with his own comment."
Several months ago, at the Catholic church my wife and I attend, we waited to be blessed by the priest after a mass, a blessing for the family done annually by the Church. When our turn came, the priest, whom we had never met before, him being new to the parish, hugged us both, tightly, and kissed me on the cheek, as he welcomed us. It sickens and saddens me to realize how easily that wonderfully warm and open gesture of welcome from a man who, after all, has chosen a profession dedicated to helping people, could be turned into a dark and dirty accusation. Shame on those attempting to tar Reverend Robinson with such flimsy accusations, and let us hope that we don’t inadvertently create an environment where the priest I encountered is forced to keep his infectious joy of life to himself.