exit interview

Death Threats Aren’t Running Bishop Gene Robinson Out Of The Church. Actually, They Made Him A Bigger Believer

Though in announcing his decision to step down seven years before his mandatory retirement New Hampshire’s Bishop V. Gene Robinson cited the “death threats” and “the now-worldwide controversy” regarding gay clergy as having become a “constant strain” on both he and his partner Mark, the gay bishop wants to make sure everyone knows he’s not leaving the church because of the hatred.

Robinson, who was elected in 2003 and took his post the following year, stunned the audience Saturday at a diocesan convention by revealing his intention to leave the church in January 2013, where he’s led a 15,000-member diocese of New Hampshire’s Episcopal Church. But his decision to leave has nothing to do with any vitriol aimed his way, or even the naysayers. “In no way am I being run off by those who opposed me or the positions that I take,” he tells the LAT. “If death threats were going to scare me off, I would have left in the first year of being bishop when they were coming at me all the time.”

The distinction Robinson makes, then, is that he’s resigning but not retiring: He’ll still be a bishop, he just won’t be leading a specific congregation. Moreover: “There’s no question that I will continue to be active in trying to achieve full and equal rights for gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual people, and I’m also very interested in how religion intersects with public policy.” Yay!

“There is nothing like death threat,” he tells NPR, “to get your attention. And to make you think about god. … One of the real benefits in believing in the Resurrection is that you understand that death is not the worst thing. Not living your life — that’s the worst thing. So in the face of death threats, it actually strengthened my faith, and strengthened my relationship with the living God.”

As I believe religious types say, God speed.