I am not a religious person. I won’t say that I’ll never be a religious person because I’ve learned that saying I’ll "never" do or be something usually means I’ll end up dealing with friends who are thrilled to remind me of my hypocrisy (if you don’t have friends who remind you of your hypocrisy you’re hanging out with a bad crowd).
That said, organized religion turns me off. Mostly because the music is so bad. But I also don’t much care for the idea that I should center my life around a book. A movie, sure—unless it’s Marley & Me (although I sort of wish I was the rat bastard who took home a big holiday bonus for the tagline "This Christmas, Heel the Love"). But not a book. And particularly not The Book.
Imagine my surprise at hearing The Right Reverend Gene Robinson speak at Town Hall last night and leaving with the feeling that we may finally have found the leader for the gay civil rights movement.
Robinson, elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire amidst a controversy that continues to this day, is the first openly gay and partnered Bishop in the Episcopal Church. In a great bit of timing for Town Hall, he was also just assigned invocation duties at the opening event of President-elect Obama’s Inauguration Week this coming Sunday.
Robinson did not detach himself from his religious beliefs while at Town Hall. But he communicated what I’ve until now previously assumed to be a secular understanding of this moment in time better than any gay (or, for that matter, straight) political leader, spokesperson, columnist, pundit, or author that I’ve heard address the subject. And, yes, I do mean better than Obama.
"It will take religious people," he asserted, "to undue the harm wrought by religious people." He claimed that the nation’s issue with gays stems not so much from homophobia as it does from "heterosexism" that uses homosexuality as "a group denial method" by which those in power can avoid talking about their own sexuality. He aligned the gay civil rights movement not so much with the black civil rights movement but with the oppression (and fear) of women. And he noted that "what we are up against is the beginning of the end of patriarchy."
This isn’t a political blog. It’s an entertainment blog. But I was extremely entertained by Bishop Robinson’s politics. And I’ll be watching him on Sunday with a great deal of genuine, non-secular pride.