Just As I Thought

Religious zealots prey on fears

When all else fails, trot out the “allegations.”
Rev. Gene Robinson’s confirmation as bishop in the Episcopalian church (my church, although I rarely attend religious services because I hate hypocrisy and the concept of organized religion, no matter how liberal and tolerant) has been delayed because of two ridiculous, seemingly trumped-up allegations.
The first:

Just hours before they had been scheduled to vote, many of the church’s 107 bishops received an e-mail message this morning accusing Robinson of “homosexual harassment” and urging them not to confirm his election as a bishop in New Hampshire.

“When I first encountered Gene at a Province I convocation a couple of years ago he put his hands on me inappropriately every time I engaged him in conversation,” said the e-mail, which was signed “David Lewis” and listed a post office box and telephone number in Manchester, Vt.

Opponents of Robinson’s election distributed copies of the e-mail to reporters. The e-mail did not provide any details of the alleged touching, and phone calls by reporters to the Vermont number were not returned. A church spokesman, James Solheim, said that at least one bishop had spoken to Robinson’s accuser this morning and verified that the e-mail was genuine.

What a crock of shit. I’m certain that if the Rev. put his hand on the guy’s shoulder while discussing theology, that automatically becomes “homosexual harassment” to his narrow, bigoted mind. This is a particularly scary form of homophobia (or whatever term you want to assign to it): the people who turn every normal gesture of behavior into some kind of gay threat. The same non-excuse they use to beat the crap out of a person and leave him to die in a field somewhere. “Well, he was coming on to me.” If a female reverend touched your arm while consoling you or listening to you, would you scream harassment? Oh, never mind – this sort of person doesn’t believe that women should be ordained, either.

Then came number two:

The allegation involving pornography was brought to the attention of church lawyers Sunday night by the American Anglican Council, a Washington-based group devoted to orthodoxy that has vigorously opposed Robinson’s election.

AAC’s president, the Rev. David C. Anderson, said its members found an Internet link from the Web site of Outright, a secular outreach program for gay and bisexual youth, to a pornographic Web site. He said Robinson was a co-founder of the Concord, N.H., chapter of Outright and has publicly praised its efforts.

Anderson conceded that there is no evidence that Robinson had anything to do with the Web site or was aware of the alleged link to pornography. “He may be completely innocent, and he deserves a chance to defend himself,” Anderson said.

One of Robinson’s supporters, the Rev. Susan Russell, said it took “at least two or three clicks” to get from Outright’s Web site to a pornographic one.
This is pretty obviously another of those ridiculous fundamentalist smear campaigns. Someone from this group went out specifically to find something bad about Rev. Robinson, and the best they could do is this? Sort of reminds me of the fundies who spent hours and hours watching every frame of Disney cartoons looking for something, anything that they could get fired up about, and when they found nothing, they made things up. If they’re worried about pornography, I’d suggest that they take a look at the hard drives of the folks in the orthodox opposition…

Meanwhile, for an uplifting story, read about Rev. John David van Dooren.

[Update 2:49pm: The investigation into the “allegations” has been ended and the vote will go on this afternoon. They haven’t released any of the findings of the investigation. But Reuters reports:

The vote will now take place following a report on the investigation at 3:30 p.m. EDT, presiding Bishop Frank Griswold told the assembled bishops.

Bishops had delayed the vote to investigate accusations by Vermont parishioner David Lewis that Robinson sexual harassed him, and to look into questions about a Web site for a group Robinson founded that contained links to pornography.

Lewis had sent an e-mail to bishops that called Robinson a “grab-assing skirt-chaser” and was asked to follow it up with a signed, formal complaint, church officials said.
Love it – calling a gay man a “skirt-chaser.” Why, was David Lewis wearing a skirt? Kinky.
USA Today has more details on the people who put forth these allegations, and also says that church officials indicated that Robinson has been cleared of any charges:

Robinson’s supporters had called the timing of the allegations suspicious. His opponents had acknowledged they helped bring forward the Web site claim against him.

The claim of inappropriate touching was e-mailed to Vermont Bishop Thomas Ely by David Lewis of Manchester, Vt. A family friend said Tuesday that Lewis never intended the allegations to go public.
Yeah, the best way to not go public is to send out a big batch of e-mails to a group who are currently one of the top headlines in the country.

Separate concerns were raised about Robinson’s connection to the Web site of Outright, a secular outreach program for gay and bisexual youth that Robinson helped found.

Bishops learned of the porn link claim from David Virtue, a conservative Anglican activist and writer who has been among the harshest critics of Robinson and of Episcopal gay activists. Virtue said a bishop whom he would not identify alerted him to the link.

A member of the group’s board of directors said Robinson hasn’t been involved with the group for several years and had no role in developing its Web page.

The link is on an unaffiliated site that had resources for gay youth, Baxley said. That page provided resources for bisexuals that, a few links away, provided access to porn.
The site you’re reading right now has no links to porn. But I betcha that if you tried, it would still only take 3 clicks to make it to a porn site. Such is the nature of the web – and thus, it’s name.]

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