Michael Crawford

Bishop Gene Robinson's Speech at the Lincoln Memorial (Video)

Filed By Michael Crawford | January 18, 2009 8:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: Gene Robinson

Update II: From Leah McElrath at Huffington Post

A PIC source reports that some clips from the Lincoln Memorial event, including Bishop Robinson's prayer, will be played on the Mall prior to the swearing in ceremony. In addition, HBO's Cusson has also confirmed that the cable outlet will include Bishop Robinson's appearance and prayer in its re-broadcast of the event.

Update: I have added video of Bishop Robinsons's speech. We don't see him in the clip, but the sound is clear.

Bishop Gene Robinson delivered the invocation for the Obama inaugural concert called We are One. Bishop Robinson's speech was delivered minutes before HBO began its live broadcast of the concert with featured Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, Garth Brooks, Stevie Wonder, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Jack Black, Tom Hanks, Gay Men's Chorus of Washington and many others.

I attended the concert, but Bishop Robinson's speech was largely inaudible because of mic/speaker problems.

After the jump is the full text of Bishop Robinson's speech.

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 God¹s blessing upon our nation and our next

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you willŠ

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 ³answers² we¹ve 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
³fixed² 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 religion¹s
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 Lincoln¹s reconciling
leadership style, President Kennedy¹s ability to enlist our best efforts,
and Dr. King¹s 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

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

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
daughters¹ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents,
and we¹re 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.


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I too was at the event today, and with everyone around me chanting for the audio to be fixed, I kept wondering what Bishop Robinson was thinking people were chanting. Also, this distracted me from reading his prayer, so I am quite thankful that you posted it here. Was a beautiful day in DC overall though!

karen Brett | January 18, 2009 8:48 PM

Was this a plan? Was Bishop Robinson invited,knowing that his invocation would not be heard--but Rick Warren's will. Has the gay community be thrown under the bus again but a politican that took our money and energy to get elected, but quickly left us in the dust????

I think it was a plan. The transmitters told me so last night. The antenna on the building across the street activated during the concert. They are going to transport all the out glbt people to an alternative time continuum. If you put aluminum foil on your windows, the transmitters can't get you.

Good advice, GregC! ... but I would add that wrapping your head with aluminum foil is even more effective. But the shiny side of the aluminum foil has to face outward: if the shiny side faces inward, the mind-snatch signals will bounce around inside your head even more, and be amplified.

But don't fear the new ATC (Alternative Time Continuum) --- be sure to wear a flower in your hair, and the gentle folks will hold a Love-In there.)

The Robinson and Warren remarks are both heard by Whom is was addressed to.


Gene Robinson Omitted from TV Coverage

Nothing ever happens in Obama World that isn’t planned down to the most excruciatingly small detail. This sure looks deliberate. To add insult to injury, this was orchestrated so that the benediction would occur before Obama entered. Obama avoided the “embarrassment” of having the queer minister address him directly.

Clearly resembling the McClurkin scenario, where the gay priest was pretty much unnoticeable.

The Gay Men's Chorus that performed was broadcast, but it was not identified by script on the screen(subtitle?) or by the announcers.

Invisible again....

For the most part, the backing choirs and choruses were not identified for the broadcast program. The Gay Mens Chorus of Washington wasn't being singled out in that respect, no more than the Gospel choir that sang with Springsteen or the youth choir who sang with Garth Brooks. The only group that I remember being identified was the Naval Academy Glee Club. GMCW and the Washington Youth Choir were on the list here:

Just seems like one Obama-related anti-LGBT coinkydink after another these days, doesn't it?

I've never been much for conspiracy theory, but damn, after Rick Warren and everything else, it sure seems credible to suspect a pattern here.

This IS a pattern

It seems so obvious that this was choreographed so that the benediction was before Obama's entrance and before the TV stream. This was no accident. Obama's people are simply too disciplined and organized to let something like this happen by "oops."

First there was that ex-gay bigot gospel singer
Next was ambiguity on Prop 8
Then there was Warren
Now this slap in the face

The only reaching out has been to the right. You can bet that fat, repellent Rick Warren will be center stage. The steam is literally coming out of my ears this time.

Further frustration: The GLBT outreach email no longer works and is not being forwarded to someone at the EOB. It just bounces back.

Rebecca, how dare you! I thought you got the memo that we are not allowed to disparage Obama in any way! It doesn't matter if your point is valid or not-it all comes from a place of white privilege, it's not allowed!

Will there be an official announcement when we are allowed to criticize Obama?

Well, gay or not, I do not really care what a bishop from the episcopal church has to say. Same as from a catholic or even greek orthodox bishop.

I resent their faith being treated as more relevant and important than mine. I resent that a person who does not believe in any gods, would have to put up with having to listen to him and see him being treated as someone who is more critical and more equal within our nation than they are.

God has no relevance in a modern secualr society.
If we have to include one just to get by, then obviously America falls far short of that ideal.

Bishop Robinson didn't get included b/c it was 5+ minutes of crap. And they knew that when they, most likely, read it last week.

I'm glad Bishop Robinson was invited. But I am not proud of his words/prayer. It was 200 words to long. 589 words is a speech, not an invocation.

Everyone is worried about Warren praying with an "agenda". But let's be honest with ourselves, Bishop Robinson's prayer was filled with extra "preaching". Almost every last sentence or two on each paragraph could have been deleted and still been very powerful, inclusive, and I think better. Instead, he decided to include redundant explanation that only enforces the stereotype of the liberal Bishop. That would have left 300 words of humility free, agenda free invocation. Bishop Robinson is smarter than this. I'm very disappointed that he blew this opportunity to show the faith of a gay christian and give a simple invocation instead of an advocacy speech and veiled references to Bush's failings.

If Warren is smart, (which he is) he will make his invocation short, from a place of humility, stay away from hot button words, and will simply ask "god" to be present and bless the united states, us and the Obama family.

And that's what Warren will do--and the press will have a field day. b/c we were all upset about Warren being there and what he might say. And compared to Robinson, Warren will be "wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove".

If Warren is smart, (which he is) he will make his invocation short, from a place of humility, stay away from hot button words, and will simply ask "god" to be present and bless the united states, us and the Obama family.

I agree he's smart, but I think he'll start from the same place he always starts his thoughts from - his massive ego. He'll stay away from the hot button words, but he'll definitely be saying "Jesus."

As for length, it was probably already determined by the committee.

FYI, according to the schedule, Warren is allotted exactly two minutes (11:35 to 11:37). The presidential oath of office occurs at 11:56.

I am agnostic Jew. I don't care about either of these guys. If Obama has a GLBT Outreach person then he or she is uninvolved in the process.

Warren used far longer than two minutes.

I noticed that. He also said things he doesn't practice. I called him a liar out loud at work.

"I'm glad Bishop Robinson was invited. But I am not proud of his words/prayer. It was 200 words to long. 589 words is a speech, not an invocation."

Yes, I agree that Bishop Robinson blew a great opportunity to be gracious and inclusive. His delivery was WAY too long and so political that he's now made it easy for Rick Warren to come out sounding reasonable. I hate to say it but it may be just as well that millions more did NOT hear what Robinson had to say.

At any rate it seems clear that an invocation of any nature really was not needed and (claims of the Obama camp notwithstanding) certainly could not have been planned originally for such a concert-like event. Duh . . . why would something planned to be so important to the event be "pre event?" This was just a botched attemt by Obama's transition folks to make up for their Warren pick.

For the conspiracy theorists, you forget that the President-elect did not have to invite Gene Robinson, but he did. You also forget that in his speech, Obama clearly included Americans who are "gay and straight," today. When the President-elect says this in front of a crowd of thousands in DC and millions on TV two days before his inauguration, you know it is truly a new day in Washington.

Hooray! He included us in laundry list of communities and groups. We have arrived!!

Sure a lot of non-sequitur comments on this thread.

Gene Robinson said it, and said it so well, today. May his wise words and thoughts travel far and wide and be heard by millions.

How exactly did the Robinson invocation happen BEFORE Obama was in the house? I found it shocking, as did all the others watching on tv at my home. For most of the world, the event was what HBO showed.

As for the gay men's chorus, we agreed at my home that none of the back up chorusas and choirs were identified, so that omission was not an anti-gay slap. But Robinson...just inexcusable.

Sorry our LGBT family didn't get recognized. But Bishop Gene Robinson is boring. Had he come on stage just wearing his Bishop's pointed hat and pink tights like Mick Jagger then HBO might have aired his prayer. A priviledged white man making a huge salary in the Episcopal diocese he represents can't compete with the other great talent represented that day. The concert was amazing and Robinson's speech (I didn't see anyone praying in the audience, twittering and taking pictures) would not have added any excitement to the festivities. It was about entertainment. Entertainers like Rev. Wright would have gotten attention, but not some dull Episcopalian that everyone thinks is elitist. Everyone has heard that "god of many understandings" stuff ad nausium at AA meetings. Where was Melissa Etheridge, Elton John ? Melissa would have been a better representative for our community, even though she kissed Obama's ass over the Rick Warren debacle. Oh I forgot, she is protesting and said she won't pay taxes due to Prop 8. No doubt an embarrassment to the new administration of hope.

Can we get the facts correct? This was NOT a decision made by HBO.

Their position (in accordance with the PIC) was that the event started with the brief military ceremony leading up to the Obamas entering
the venue.

This seems to have been choreographed to ensure that Obama would not be filmed in the presence of a gay minister. It seems completely incoherent to have a benediction in advance of Obama's arrival.

If you look at the inaugural schedule, the event starts at 9:00. Obama is seated at 11:25 followed by Feinstein's opening remarks and THEN fat Rick Warren.

We waited all day to see and hear openly gay, Rev. Gene Robinson, give the invocation Sunday on TV.

Egg on my face.

There indeed seems to be a troubling pattern with president-elect Obama and the LGBT community.

Rest assured, when Rick Warren, AKA, Jerry Falwell in a Hawaiian shirt, gives the invocation tomorrow, there will be no "technical glitches." Warren rotund face will be front and center.

This shizz needs to stop.

Some of you need to get a life. I swear. Taking any glitch, and tiny misstep, and flub as proof that Obama will fail or that he really hates us. Many of the whiners here who are making the most noise about conspiracy theories were official Hillery supporters, so I take their sour-grape comments with a grain of salt.


This was neither a glitch nor misstep. This was clearly by design.

The contrasting time-lines are here.

Thanks David
Like your website.
The other rumour ws that Bishop Robinson was moved up to accomodate more entertainment talent.

For whatever reason whatever took place, the Robinson event is now past us, the inaugural is on the morrow.

Rick Warren gives the invocation tomorrow. After that the 44th president of the United States is sworn in. Then the real struggle begins, to get and to keep attention on our causes, specifically protection of the vulnerable and true citizenship.

Even I think that it is time to move on.
And as my friend "undersea" Monica would tell you, I am the last person to find a way to swallow a war crimes advocate giving the invocation, but it is going to happen.

In the immortal words of President Jed Bartlett(I no longer count Bush) "What's Next?"

Eight years is a long time to endure the Bush's version of the "battered wife syndrone" on LGBT people. Our community was lied to by Clinton, then suffered extreme hate by BushCo and the fundies that sprung up as his minions, or were given new permission to hate openly. A battered wife/woman has such a low level of trust of any other human, especially the sex they were battered by, that anything and everything is viewed as another attack. Obama is a person we should be able to trust, but trust of the occupants in the White House has been all but lost. The battered LGBT community will not heal the wounds of hate over night, but we will heal. The beauty of our souls will help that healing take place.

If Warren is smart, (which he is) he will make his invocation short, from a place of humility, stay away from hot button words, and will simply ask "god" to be present and bless the united states, us and the Obama family.

And that's what Warren will do--and the press will have a field day. b/c we were all upset about Warren being there and what he might say. And compared to Robinson, Warren will be "wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove".
"jon" in a comment above

I write this just after having watched the inauguration ceremony on TV. I listened carefully to Rick Warren's prayer, and I must say that I found little to be offended by or to object to. It appears that the above prediction by "jon" hit the nail on the head.

Some might object to Warren ending his prayer with the Lord's Prayer, that he was "imposing Christianity on the rest of us." Although it is a core item in Christian tradition, in truth there is relatively little that is distinctly Christian in its words: the Lord's Prayer is free of Christian dogma. Notice that Jesus did not include "Father, please bless me as I work to convince all these earthlings that I am Your only earthly incarnation, that the divine incarnations claimed by other religions are fakes, and that in a few years my crucifixion will wash them of their sins." Other than asking that God be hallowed and glorified, it asks just for a bunch of everyday things that we all need: daily material needs, brotherhood and sisterhood, the ability to forgive and be forgiven, the wisdom to avoid bad choices in life. It's about as ecumenical a prayer as anyone might hope to put together. It might offend atheists, but then atheists have no use for prayer (usually).

The comment by "Paul A." above was also right-on: The Obama people reviewed what Robinson's prayer was to include, decided he was poking too many conservatives in the political eye, and decided to set things up to minimize the damage. Robinson blew it, but Warren was wise as a serpent.

So my conclusion is: There was no malicious conspiracy; rather, we (the GLBT community) need to learn how to play better politics on the national stage. The new president seeks to be a bearer of national unity, and anything we do to thwart this intention of his will be tuned out, both figuratively and literally.