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Wednesday, August 6, 2003

On second thought.

Eileen McNamara writes in this morning's Boston Globe about the allegations that delayed the final approval of the Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop. She asks an important question:

Don't our visceral political sympathies — whatever they are — dictate our initial reactions to charges like these? Robinson's critics immediately saw a smoking gun; his champions just as instantly saw dirty politics.

And so I have had to ask whether my own reaction was unfair. (And I think it's only fair to ask whether Fred Barnes will take back some of his comments.) By yesterday afternoon, it was clear that David Lewis, the Vermont man who complained on Sunday night about Robinson's physical contact at a church conference in 1999, probably had no idea what kind of response his e-mail would provoke and was almost certainly not part of an organized campaign. (His e-mail, for one thing, supports the development of blessing liturgies for gay and lesbian couples.) He clearly overreacted, but he didn't intend to launch a sexual harassment probe, and I respect him for resolving his complaint.

The "pornography" charge, however, was passed around by conservative bishops and others who were organized against Robinson's candidacy. They should have known better. They should be ashamed of themselves. I still think their tactics here constitute "desperate measures."

So here's my self-assessment. I went farther than I should have in asking: "But was the adult man so traumatized for the past two years — or somehow completely unaware of Robinson's candidacy — that he didn't bother raising his concerns until 8:54 last night?" I appreciate the restraint and concern the Episcopal Church showed in its response to Lewis. The bishops provided the pastoral response he seems to have needed but never expected — and they were able to go forward with the proper decision about Robinson's election.

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 6 August 2003 at 5:58 PM

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