Bishop Robinson’s Prayer to Open the Inaugural Events

Pardon my side trip from Science Fiction and Fantasy. But this is important. It’s unfortunate that HBO blacked out the opening prayer of Bishop Robinson, especially after so much controversy over Rick Warren’s selection to pray on Tuesday. Here’s the video. This was shot by Sarah Pulliam of Christianity Today. Christianity Today, in a really nice gesture, allowed it to be posted on their blog and here on Youtube. Sarah, you may have saved a moment in history, important to a whole community.

HBO also decided not to identify the Gay Men’s Chorus when they sang with Josh Groban. It looks like coincidence, but it hurts a whole community to be nearly erased from this historic moment. What you can’t erase, though, are all the gays and lesbians who are watching, and all their friends who are watching, and requiring something different and something better from this new administration. For your enjoyment, here is the well-written, and surprising, prayer of Bishop Gene Robinson. I love the irony of the Blessings section. Full text appears afterwards.

Full text of the prayer, courtesy of the Advocate. I hope they don’t mind that I’m posting it here–I think it should be spread as far as we can spread it.

Good afternoon,

Before this celebration begins, please join me in pausing for a moment to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.

Oh God of our many understandings, we pray that you will bless us with tears, tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women in many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die a day from malnutrition, malaria and AIDS.

Bless this nation with anger – 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 prefer to hear from our politicians instead of the truth about ourselves and our 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 any time soon and the understanding that our next president is a human being, not a messiah. Bless us with humility, open to understanding that our own needs as a nation 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.

Bless us with compassion and generosity, remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the ways we care for the most vulnerable. And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office fo the president of the United States. Give him wisdom beyond his years, inspire him with President Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for all people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our ship of state needs a steady calm captain. Give him stirring words, 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 a 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 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 implore you oh good and great God to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand that he might do the work that 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.



Many in the GLBT community, knowing that Robinson was only going to pray on this first day–a Sunday morning when most other Christians would be in church–still they were looking forward to this representation by both Robinson and the Gay Men’s Chorus. Noticeably, they are hurt.

Though it didn’t get played on TV, on HBO, and will only be heard in snippets tomorrow morning in a collage playback before the swearing in, I hope this video gets round the world tonight to make up for it. Networks and Cable television have no idea the power of Youtube to completely make them obsolete in regards to news and events. You can’t erase a people from history. Not anymore.

2 thoughts on “Bishop Robinson’s Prayer to Open the Inaugural Events

  1. jstueart January 20, 2009 / 9:59

    In just fifteen minutes the counter on the Youtube video jumped 20,000. Wow. Not because of my posts–nothing from here–but I’m glad the video is getting seen and sent around. Wow, technology is changing how news is transmitted—it reinforces the oldest form of news–word of mouth. In some ways, we’ve gone back to that armed with our own ways of distributing the news.

    Now, there’s your science fiction twist on this story.

  2. Keyan January 23, 2009 / 9:59

    What an amazing and inspiring prayer!

    It speaks to everyone, even those who don’t necessarily believe in a great and good God, because I think it lists what we all fervently desire.

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