Next Tuesday evening the 11th, the Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol will be providing a free showing of “Love Free or Die.” This film is about the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
The website for the film writes: “LOVE FREE OR DIE is about a man whose two defining passions are in direct conflict: his love for God and for his partner Mark. Gene Robinson is the first openly gay person to become a bishop in the historic traditions of Christendom. His consecration in 2003, to which he wore a bullet-proof vest, caused an international stir. The film follows Robinson from small-town churches in the New Hampshire North Country to Washington’s Lincoln Memorial to London’s Lambeth Palace, as he calls for all to stand for equality – inspiring bishops, priests and ordinary folk to come out from the shadows and change history.”
The film will show for free at 7pm on Tuesday the 11th.
Community Cinema: Love Free or Die
Tue, June 11 7pm
In 2003, Gene Robinson became the first openly gay priest in a committed same-sex relationship to be ordained a bishop in any Christian denomination. But his consecration has brought the Episcopal Church in the United States to the brink of a catastrophic schism, and has resulted in threats of violence against Robinson himself (he wore a bulletproof vest to the elevation ceremony). But with his beloved husband Mark at his side, Robinson continues to calmly make the case that who you love doesn’t determine whether God loves you.
Robinson’s story parallels the conversation underway in many American churches about whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are equal to heterosexuals in the eyes of God, and also the debate in legislatures and courthouses across the nation as to whether LGBT people are entitled to equal status under the law.
His ministry takes him from the tiny rural churches of rural New Hampshire all the way to the national stage, when he was chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to deliver the invocation at his 2009 inauguration. Sometimes he is shouted down when he is leading prayers; he has received more death threats than he can count. He also receives calls from young gay Christians who draw strength, hope, and courage from Robinson’s example.
But Robinson’s elevation has reverberated through not only the American Episcopal church, but beyond, to the Anglican Communion as well. With the threat of a schism ever-present, dozens of socially and theologically conservative congregations voted to separate from the church and align with conservative bishops from the Southern hemisphere, a move the leadership has thus far prevented. As the pressure built, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, pointedly did not invite Robinson to Lambeth Palace in 2008 for the once-a-decade conference of the worldÕs bishops. Robinson took his message to the media outside.
Robinson has announced his intentions to retire from the church next year at 65, and will continue his work as a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, his legacy continues to be written daily across one of the worldÕs oldest Christian traditions. He also continues the conversation about LGBT rights in his book God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage, answering questions like “Why gay marriage now?”, “What’s wrong with civil unions?”, and “Doesn’t the Bible condemn homosexuality?”, and makes the case for same-sex marriage as a man of faith.