NYT: Gay Bishop is 'Normal,' Opponents Are 'Conservative'

In a classic bit of liberal bias, The New York Times took advantage of a controversial gay Episcopal bishop's decision to approve his own civil union, to normalize homosexuality and paint opponents with the “conservative” label. 

Nowhere in the reporting of “Gay Bishop Plans His Civil Rite” was the word “liberal” used.  But the word “conservative” showed up four times in the story and only in the context of describing those who opposed Robinson's ordination or who think the Anglican Church should not bless same-sex relationships.

Times reporter Laurie Goodstein never challenged Robinson's assertion that he lives an “incredibly normal life” as a bishop in his diocese.  Goodstein never used the word “liberal” or “progressive” to describe Robinson or his assertion that “gay relationships are compatible with Christianity.”  Repeatedly, however, she used the word “conservative” to describe those who take issue with Robinson and his agenda.  Her story opened with these two paragraphs:

Bishop Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal prelate whose consecration led conservatives to split from the church, said in an interview on Thursday that he and his partner of 20 years were planning a civil union ceremony to be held in his home church in the diocese of New Hampshire in June.

Bishop Robinson said that by scheduling the ceremony for June, he did not intend to further inflame conservatives just before the Anglican Communion gathers in August in Cambridge, England, for the Lambeth Conference, which happens only once every 10 years.

Later Goodstein reported that Robinson was excluded from the Lambeth Conference by the Archbishop of Canterbury.  That was the conservatives' fault too, apparently.

The archbishop came under pressure from conservative bishops who warned that they would boycott the conference if Bishop Robinson attended. And recent efforts by three American bishops to negotiate a compromise that would have allowed him to attend in a “diminished capacity” failed.

Goodstein painted Robinson in a sympathetic light when she wrote that at first he “rejected” the idea of spending the conference days at a “bazaar” where attendees “promote their causes and wares.” But he changed his mind, and hopes to change other minds while there.

 “My hope,” he said, “is that even some of the more negative bishops will be encouraged by the American participants to come with them and to see that I don't have horns, or I don't wear a dress or I don't fit any of the stereotypes that are often held by people who don't really know gay people, and in fact will see how normal I am, and to hear about the incredibly normal life I have as a bishop in my diocese.”

In an exquisite juxtaposition, Goodstein immediately followed Robinson's “normal” proclamation with a sentence about conservatives threatening to divide the church.

In the last five years, conservatives in the Anglican Communion have threatened schism ever since the American church's General Convention, its highest governing body, consented to the election of Bishop Robinson, and refused to issue a blanket prohibition of same-sex blessings.

Goodstein never informed readers why the conservatives are separating from the Episcopal Church: the decision by the liberals running the American denomination to reject the Scriptural teaching about homosexuality.

The article also revealed that Robinson has met with Senator Barack Obama three times and has advised the presidential hopeful on “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.”  Robinson reportedly was surprised when, after he endorsed Obama in the New Hampshire primary, “some voters” said religious leaders “should stay out of politics.”

Robinson's interview with the Times is part of a promotion campaign for his new book, “In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God.”

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.