Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bp. Robinson Threatened With Violence

Bp. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire has received numerous threats of violence since before his consecration, which resulted in him being required to wear a bullet-proof vest. In a recent interview, the Bishop speaks of new threats, apparently as the result of his resolve to attend Lambeth:

Gene Robinson, the openly gay American bishop whose appointment has sparked furore within the Anglican church, said in an interview Monday he had received physical threats in recent years.

Speaking to the BBC while in Britain ahead of this summer's Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, Robinson said the controversy surrounding his appointment was "deeply troubling".

Robinson, who will be attending the fringes of the Lambeth Conference but has not been officially invited, told the broadcaster: "I'll be coming to the Lambeth Conference, and there have already been threats against me and others."

Asked whether he regarded the threats as serious, he replied: "Absolutely. This has been going on ever since I was elected Bishop of New Hampshire, and I have to take them seriously. Certainly the authorities take them seriously"...
What is most alarming about this news is that the response from some of the extreme Conservatives is to treat this like a joke. Here's just a few examples:

...it is in his self interest to recieve as many threats as possible so that he can go on and on and on about “poor me”...I’m sure his tailor is thrilled to get to do the June Bride in Kevlar...Dear simple country bishop - the threats in this life are NOTHING like the threats in the bible, those awaiting you in the afterlife...This is all a bunch of grandstanding, folks. He has a book to sell you know… and an agenda to promote...What goes around comes around Gene, and you set about destroying the church our families have worshipped in for generations and it is bound to be costly...I think he should wear a lightning-proof vest.
Such responses are most likely just casual chatter, with no real threat intended. But, what is of concern is that if some psychotic person was to see such a cavalier response to death threats, they could interpret it as permission to target Bp. Robinson.

Our words matter. That includes the words we use here. As an aside, I need to tell you that I was disappointed by some of the responses to Life Long Episcopalian yesterday. Some of them were just plain mean. In hindsight, I should have removed some of them. In the future I will.

Enough, folks. I will not tolerate rhetorical violence here. And there will not be such responses to this post, either. Yes, I know this kind of stuff makes us angry. And I know some of you have stories full of similar violence. I understand, having been targeted myself a few times. But focusing on that is not productive. Move beyond it. It's time we learned some self-control. When we meet violence with violence, the result is always more violence.

Bp. Robinson has been threatened. What is a productive response?

I'll start. I've made my decision. If at all possible, I'll be going to Lambeth, to do my small part to protect the innocent.

Watch your words, folks. I'm zapping posts and taking names today.


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