Regarding the election, Bishop Robinson said, “To see the tears in the eyes of African-Americans, it’s just been a profoundly, I would say religious, experience, very exciting.”
[In their meeting Robinson and Obama] spent more time discussing international issues than lesbians and gays. “He certainly indicated his broad and deep support for the full civil rights for gay and lesbian … I pressed him on the Millennium Development Goals. I wanted to know whether he thought more about them than just they were a good idea but whether he had any intention of pushing for their full funding and so on.”
Bishop Robinson said he feared that the economic crisis might affect this agenda. “I hope the United States will not shirk its responsibilities in aid to the developing world. That’s going to be a hard-fought fight, not just with President Obama but all the powers in Washington.”
The Anglican church’s first gay bishop and the United States’ first black President-elect discussed in depth the place of religion in the state.
Bishop Robinson said: “He and I would agree about the rightful place of religion vis-a-vis the secular state. That is to say, we don’t impose our religious values on the secular state because God said so. Our faith informs our own values and then we take those values into the civil market place, the civil discourse, and then you argue for them based on the Constitution. You don’t say to someone, you must believe this because this is what God believes.
“I think God gives us our values and then we argue for those on the basis of the Constitution and care of our neighbour. And I think the Bush administration got very very close to the line if not going over the line in terms of offering support to religious-based groups who were using their social service arms to proselytise and evangelise which I would say is inappropriate.”
Bishop Robinson said that Mr Obama had not hesitated to talk about his faith.
“I find that remarkable, not only in a politician but also in a Democrat. For years it’s only been Republicans who wanted to talk about religion. All the Democratic candidates felt disposed to do so this year.”
It’s all here, including links to the interview and a blog report.
On the subject of being the first the Newshour’s team of historians had an interesting exchange:
MARGARET WARNER: So, Richard, does that alone guarantee Barack Obama’s place in history, just transcending that barrier?
RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University: Gosh, you know, that’s a great question. You know, 50 years later, we don’t think of John F. Kennedy — the first thing that comes to mind is not the first Catholic president. Clearly, it loomed much larger in November 1960 than it does 50 years later. And if 50 years from now, the most important thing about Barack Obama was his race, that would give me real pause, and it would suggest that his presidency, which ultimately is going to be about other things than race, was less than successful.