The Bishop’s Unchristian Prayer

Even though he is a bishop in the Episcopal Church, Gene Robinson promised that he would not offer a Christian prayer at the inaugural celebration. Today he lived up to his word.

At the opening inaugural festivities, not only did the Bishop fail to offer a Christian prayer, he began his supplication by addressing a false god—one that he called the “God of our many understandings.” In one sentence, he endorsed the idolatry that is endemic to the human condition—the idea that god is whoever we imagine him to be. There’s no question that the warnings of Romans 1:18-31
apply here.

The rest of the prayer is filled with liberal tropes and the pabulum that usually goes with civic prayers. You can read the whole, sad thing here.


UPDATE: Sarah Pulliam shot a video of the prayer for Christianity Today (see below). According to Ben Smith, HBO with its exclusive rights to coverage of the event did not broadcast Robinson’s prayer. has made the video available, and it does in fact exclude the opening prayer. Aaron Barnhart notes three lines from the prayer that were in the original written version, but were not included when Robinson voiced the prayer.


  • Darius T

    Denny, pretty amazing but God intervened. HBO didn’t broadcast his prayer, and at the festivities themselves, there were technical problems so most of the people in attendance couldn’t hear Robinson. Have to chalk that up to God.

  • Brian (Another)

    I suppose he’s being biblical. He promised not to pray a Christian prayer and he kept his promise. If he believes what he says (“…that every religion’s [g]od judges us…”), then I suppose he’s swearing (to say a non-Christian prayer) to his own (eternal) hurt.

    Very sad indeed. I noticed he had to shoehorn in the homosexual slant as well (”Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against….gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.”). I wonder if Rick Warren will shoehorn in his same view on that subject (my hope is that he wouldn’t as that should not be his agenda for this grand stage.).

  • Don Johnson

    1. All of us are idolaters and we are good at it. God is an idol smasher.

    2. I do not want to discriminate against anyone.

    3. Even among evangelicals, there are many denominations with their differing understandings of what God wants.

  • Don Johnson

    I did not read it closely, I read it broadly.

    Prayers given at a public gov. gathering are a strange mixture of church and state, so I adjust my expectations downward. Some choose not to participate in any form, seeing it as syncretism. Others participate seeing it as a chance for evangelizing in a general sense. I know believers are to pray for our leaders that God would guide them, so I pray this for Obama and his administration.

  • Darius T

    It’s pretty safe to say that Robinson is not a Christian in any sense of the word. In fact, it would be quite Biblical to affirm that unless he repents, God has a special wrath waiting for Robinson(Luke 17:1-2).

  • Nathan

    Broad prayers at inaguration ceremonies are common, but a flat denial of the God you have been elected to represent is abysmal.

    “The god of our many understandings.” Please! Hear O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord is One.

    Many pastors have prayed at these types of ceremonies, but none that I am aware of prayed to no god at all. That is, until now.

  • Darius T

    “Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance…”

    At least he realizes that tolerance as properly defined and understood still means that people believe he’s living a sinful life… so instead he prays that people “warm[ly] embrace” sinful lifestyles.

    “Help him remember his own oppression as a minority…”

    Ah yes, that oppression that led him to be elected one of the youngest presidents in history. Stupid oppression, always keeping the black man down. In Robinson’s world, it appears that just being a minority means you will be oppressed.

  • Denny Burk

    Hello, all. I’ve updated the post with some links to reports about the prayer’s exclusion from the HBO broadcast. Also, I’ve posted Sarah Pulliam’s YouTube video of Robinson’s prayer. One last thing: there’s a link showing three lines which were stricken from the final version of the prayer.

  • Brian (Another)


    There is a difference between not discriminating and standing for your faith. There’s a difference between admitting we are idolaters and saying that idolatry is OK and we should embrace it (spot on that God is an idol-smasher). There is a difference between having different views of God* versus being prepared to present a reason for the hope that we have. Even in the most broad reading, this is non-Christian. I am all for tolerance. I agree that our freedom of speech affords all the right (privilege) of speaking in honor of whatever they want. We can’t say that Robinson doesn’t have a right to be there (that would be discrimination in a negative manner). He clearly does have the right (we don’t live in a Theocracy). However, there should be impassioned responses to this. We should stand for our God. Not doing so behind a veiled let’s-all-be-friends (or log-plank) motif is the lukewarm church. If you’re giving a lecture on religions of the world, great, (we must) include talk of others’ beliefs, if you’re discussing the rights of humans in-totem across the world, again, have at “the god’s of different people” (we should). When you’re a Christian and you begin to pray to God, there is no room for praying to the many gods of others.

    To tag onto what Joshua said (and Darius Amen’d), I was reading Philippians the other day and ran across this:

    “For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.”

    Weeping for those who do not know Christ. There is no justification for idolatry. To attempt to dismiss it is to rejoice in their position. We should be praying and weeping for them. Something that should have been the first words out of my “mouth” (to the joy of those around me, I don’t read my comments aloud ;-).

    * – Though anyone calling themselves Christian have a specific view of a singular God who became man and died for our sins….Robinson very clearly does not. I know you didn’t say that specifically as there is a difference between what God wants and who He is.

  • Paul

    strangely, it is an awful, terrible, no good, very bad prayer.

    But it’s a pretty great speech.

    And let’s face it, these “prayers,” no matter who they’re given by in these scenarios, are more about the speechifyin’ than the prayerifyin’.

    That said, I won’t be stopping by Robinson’s church any time soon.

  • Joshua

    Having now heard the prayer, I am a little confused. If he addresses a “god of many understandings” and then references “gods of other religions”, whenever he says “God,” how do we know which one is he addressing? It sounds like addressing Guy on Main Street. Not that guy, but one of the many guys, who is a Guy on Main Street.

    Logically, his prayer doesn’t make sense. To me at least.

  • David R. Brumbelow

    In contrast, don’t you think Rick Warren did a great job in his prayer today. (see 1-20-2009)
    He did not refer to Jesus’ name once, but four times in as many languages.
    David R. Brumbelow

  • Paul


    as a prayer, it doesn’t make a lick of sense.

    As a speech where you’re really talking to everyone but God, but addressing “God” (just like the “guy on main street”) it was a good speech.

    Frankly, the same thing can be said about Rick Warren’s speech, but he used more “Christian friendly” language.

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