It is time to take back the church says Stonewall’s Hero of the Year, Bishop Gene Robinson

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire, was Stonewall’s Hero of the Year at their annual awards ceremony last night.

Since his election in 2003, the only openly gay Anglican bishop has been a strong voice for LGBT rights and a powerful symbol that not all religious people oppose homosexuals.

He received a standing ovation at the ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Bishop Robinson began his acceptance speech with a reflection on the election of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States, the first African-American to win the country’s highest office.

“I want to finally after eight long years bring you greetings from America,” he said.

“I have had the amazing honour to have had several one-on-one conversations with Barack, and advise his campaign not just on LGBT issues but LGBT issues as they affect communities of faith.

“I can tell you he is the genuine article.

“He knows about our issues and he is willing to speak about them to audiences who may not want to hear.

“We are in for an amazing ride, so let me bring you those greetings.

“I have tried to bring God’s voice to the struggle we are all in. God’s voice has been abused in the name of hatred and bigotry for far too long and it is time we took Scripture and the Church back from those that would use it to hurt us.

“The Church is different from God, you do not need me to tell you that, the Church often gets it wrong, but God never does.

“We learnt that with using Scripture to justify slavery, we learned it when Scripture was used to subjugate and denigrate women, and now we will learn that we also got it wrong about LGBT people.

“I am doing everything I can to undo the harm that has been done by churches because I think it is going to take religious voices to undo all that has been done in God’s name.

“So let me close my remarks to invite you when we go back outside into that beautiful rotunda – to look up and see who is presiding over our party tonight – yes it would be Jesus!

“With his arms extended, and the God that I know and I worship, the God that you can know in your life says to you and me what he said to Jesus at his baptism.

“You are my beloved and in you I am well pleased. That is God’s message to me and to you and we will see it through.

“Dr (Martin Luther) King said that the arc of history is long and slow but it inevitably bends towards justice.

“God will not rest until that justice is done for you and me and all of us who have been part of these awards.

“Thank you very much.”