The New Christians

A while back, I mused at the exceptionally long news cycle of the story that BO had asked Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.  That story had a lot of legs, in the blogosphere and in the news. (A search for “‘Rick Warren’ inauguration” turns up 4833 results on Google News and 115,670 results on Google Blogsearch.)

Last weekend, news came out that Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, has been chosen by BO to deliver a pre-inauguration prayer at the Lincoln Memorial.  That appointment hasn’t gotten nearly the buzz: 1153 on Google News and 10,022 on Google Blogsearch.

It seems to me that the Robinson appointment should receive far more buzz than the Warren appointment, for Robinson is a more polarizing and controversial figure.  Say what you will about Warren, but for the most part he steers clear of polemical issues.  Robinson (or, more accurately, his election as bishop), on the other hand, has been responsible for a schism in one of Christianity’s major denominations, for the Archbishops of Canterbury’s censure of the Episcopal Church, and for some Anglican bishops to refuse to take communion with other Anglican bishop.

Robinson is, by any measure, more controversial than Warren.  And yet his participation in the inauguration has gotten far less coverage.

This very thing came up during a panel discussion yesterday at the Missouri Ministers’ School, at which I was speaking.  Another speaker, Debra Mason, is the president of the Religion Newswriters of America.  She agreed about the disproportionality of the coverage of the two stories, and when I asked her to explain it, her answer was very interesting: She said she thinks the Warren story stayed in the news do long because of the pressure put on the media by GLBT groups. 

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