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First Gay Episcopal Bishop Says Death Threats 'Strengthened My Faith'

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First Gay Episcopal Bishop Says Death Threats 'Strengthened My Faith'

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First Gay Episcopal Bishop Says Death Threats 'Strengthened My Faith'

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

Bishop Robinson joins us from Concord to talk about his decision. Welcome back to the program.

R: Thanks, Melissa. I'm so glad to be here.

BLOCK: You did mention death threats that you've received in that speech. I know you wore a bulletproof vest when you were consecrated seven years ago. Are those threats ongoing still?

R: It continues to be a pressure but, you know, this was only one of the reasons that led to my decision. The real reason is that by the time I retire, I'll be approaching my 66th birthday. I will have been a bishop here for nine years. But I did want to say to the folks gathered that this has been a particular extra burden that I have borne and continue to bear. And, you know, that just takes its toll on you, and I think even more so on those you love and certainly on my husband, Mark.

BLOCK: This is Mark Andrew, whom you joined back in 2008 in civil union there in New Hampshire, right?

R: That's right. And then in marriage this year, when marriage equality became the law here in New Hampshire.

BLOCK: Can you talk just a bit about the kinds of threats that you mentioned and the pressure that that's put on you?

R: And so in the face of death threats, it actually strengthened my faith and strengthened my relationship with the living God, who has seemed so close to me during all of this. And has helped me understand that life is a gift and we are meant to be good stewards of that gift, and to use it for its best possible potential.

BLOCK: I wonder if that ever happened. I mean, the first words in my intro mentioned that you were the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion.

R: So I've made my peace with that. I don't get to write the headlines, I can't control that. And so I just want to use it to do the most good that I can.

BLOCK: After you were consecrated as bishop, there were a number of conservative churches in this country that left the Episcopal Church, joined with conservative Anglican churches overseas. Do you feel responsible for this division within the Episcopal Church that you've loved for so long?

R: But they didn't have to leave and they are welcome back anytime they want to come.

BLOCK: Bishop Robinson, your retirement as bishop of New Hampshire isn't effective until January of 2013. What do you see coming for yourself next? What's your next role after you leave?

R: And I hope to have a little bit of time for myself and for my husband. So I would like to see him and my grandchildren a little more.

BLOCK: Well, Bishop Robinson, thank you for talking with us.

R: You're very welcome, Melissa. Nice to talk to you.

BLOCK: That's Bishop Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire who announced his retirement over the weekend.

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