Digital News Report- Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson offered a prayer for President-elect Obama and the nation at the Lincoln Memorial today, which kicked off four days of Inaugural celebrations in Washington D.C. The event began with Robinson’s invocation and included performances and readings by numerous entertainers, including Bono, Springstein, and Stevie Wonder. President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden along with their families sat on the side of the stage and watched before giving brief speeches at the end.
“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,” Robinson said. He also prayed for Obama, asking for God to, “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.”
Bishop Robinson is the first openly gay Bishop of the Episcopal Church. His selection came after the controversial selection of Rick Warren to give the Inaugural Invocation, though Obama’s team claims to have selected him before the controversy started. Warren has made numerous questionable remarks about homosexuals, including comparing them to polygamists, incest, and pedophiles.
A number of protests are planned for the Invocation due to Warren’s selection. On Sunday, dozens crowded outside of Pastor Warren’s church in Saddleback, California. Some of the protesters helped found the website AllorNotatAll.org, which was formed in response to the passage of California’s Proposition 8, the ban on gay marriage, which Warren vocally supported. By the end of the day, the number of protesters swelled to around 100.
Protesters are expected to show up on Inauguration day, but with up to 5 million people estimated to travel to D.C. to view it, it remains to be seen how visible their protests will be. Other small protests are set to take place around the country between now and the Inauguration.