HBO snubs Bishop Gene Robinson? Opening prayer not televised

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robinsoninvocation-1Sadly, the invocation prayer by Bishop Gene Robinson was not aired on the HBO-only broadcast of today’s inaugural kickoff and concert. HBO instead cut into the proceedings after the invocation and a short break.

Update #1: It also appears that Robinson’s mic was off for the bulk of the prayer.

I am really surprised and disheartened at HBO’s lack of sensitivity, particularly in view of recent events like the passing of Proposition 8 and the choosing of Rick Warren to deliver the opening prayer of the inauguration. I know many were looking forward to Bishop Gene Robinson’s words, both religious and not. It added balance to the Warren pick, and also served as an example of the inclusiveness that Obama so often talks about.

Update #2: A video of Robinson’s prayer has fortunately surfaced on YouTube. It’s clear his mic was working (despite earlier reports). Perhaps there were issues with the speakers farther away from the stage. HBO also indicated via email this morning that the decision to exclude the prayer was made by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and not HBO. Very, very unfortunate.

Update #3: The Obama camp responds: “We had always intended and planned for Rt. Rev. Robinson’s invocation to be included in the televised portion of yesterday’s program. We regret the error in executing this plan – but are gratified that hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on the mall heard his eloquent prayer for our nation that was a fitting start to our event.” — PIC communications director Josh Earnest

Update # 4 (final?): The entire program, including Bishop Gene Robinson’s invocation, will be shown on the jumbo screens on the Mall tomorrow to entertain the assembled crowd, according to a source for Is it too little too late? Or has the damage already been done?

A transcript of Robinson’s prayer below…

A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama

By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

“Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.

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.


While the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C. did make an appearance (and they sounded wonderful), they were neither credited or included in the finale.

Contact HBO and let them know how you feel.

If any audio or video of the prayer becomes available, I will post it here.

Post by ILO on 01/18/09 at 8:49 pm