The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

The Missing Inaugural Prayer

One more video, as I catch up on everything that’s already been said about the inauguration, etc.

I sat through Rick Warren’s inaugural prayer, and all I can say about it is that at least it wasn’t as bad as the prayer at Bush’s first inauguration. But I was looking forward to hearing the prayer to be offered by Gene Robinson, who was elected the first openly gay Episcopal Bishop in 2003, and not just as a balance to Warren’s presence.

But I didn’t see it. I thought maybe it was aired and I just missed it.

Turns out it wasn’t aired.

Last week, progressives cheered the news that the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church in New Hampshire and the first openly gay priest ordained by a major Christian denomination, would be delivering the invocation at President-elect Obama’s opening ceremony.

Yesterday, however, viewers watching HBO — which had exclusive coverage of the opening ceremony — didn’t get to see Robinson’s invocation; the network never aired it.

Pam covered it. AfterElton contacted HBO and the network passed the buck back to the inaugural committee, saying the commitee made the decision to keep the invocation as part of the pre-show. I guess the pre-show wasn’t aired.

So, Warren — the man whose model for religious activism is the Hitler Youth — got the spotlight. Evangelicals got a bit of respect, and gays? Well, near as I can tell Warren was about the most visible, high profile gay presence involved in the inaugural. (Followed by the marching band.) He got…well, to a lot of viewers it was like he wasn’t even there.

Fortunately, someone with a video camera was there.

Here’s the transcript.

“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.


Why America shouldn’t have heard these words yesterday?


  1. Do catch Bishop Gene talking with Jon Stewart about his experience. The clip is up at Walking with Integrity.

  2. That’s very strange, especially considering the fact that HBO bought up the exclusive broadcasting rights- I guess someone decided that America shouldn’t see the Bish in action.

    That makes me profoundly disturbed. Controversy sells, and they’ve got to have known the huge revenue they’d generate off of having the exclusive rights. Their programming guide has religious content, it has movies that would offend the evangelical crowd, it has things like HOTEL EROTICA II and THE BEST SEX EVER 1-27… All I can think of to explain it is time constraints, or plain old bias.

    Luckily, I attend an Episcopal church, and one of the members managed to snag some video of our homeboy the Bish.