US News's Tolson Plays Softball with Gay Episcopal Bishop

Pitching a mix of softballs and loaded questions, US News & World Report writer Jay Tolson failed to press Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson with any queries from a conservative, orthodox Christian perspective in his July 30 interview with "The Gay Bishop at the Center of the Anglican Storm."

Indeed, at one point Tolson prodded Robinson to criticize the worldwide Anglican Communion for doing little to stop conservative breakaways from the increasingly liberal Episcopal Church USA:

You wouldn't even want the communion to bring an end to conservatives' efforts to create new jurisdictions or allow conservative jurisdictions (such as the Church of Nigeria) to bring breakaway congregations in other provinces under their authority?

When he wasn't asking "how does this make you feel" type questions about his treatment by conservative clergy, Tolson presented conservative Episcopals and Anglicans as "unyielding" on "hot-button issues," forgetting perhaps that religious faith is predicated on beliefs about eternal truths that are non-negotiable:

Does it appear to you that the initiatives of the conservatives' Global Anglican Future Conference [held a few weeks before the Lambeth Conference] are forcing the Anglican Communion to move toward a more conservative, unyielding stance on the hot-button issues?

In all, Tolson posed 11 questions to the New Hampshire cleric, none of them suggesting Robinson's push to make gay clergy acceptable is "unyielding" and certainly none pressing Robinson to explain in biblical or theological terms his justification for how openly practicing homosexual priests square with the sexual ethics of Christian Scripture.

Below are the questions from Tolson's piece (emphases mine). For Robinson's answers, click here for the article.:

  1. You are at the center of a controversy that is threatening to divide the Anglican Communion. What do you think about your role in all of this?
  2. How did you feel about being excluded from the Lambeth Conference by the archbishop of Canterbury?
  3. Has your exclusion been a clear signal that the leadership of the Anglican Communion will tolerate no further appointments of openly gay or lesbian clergy?
  4. What do you make of the vague assurances of the U.S. bishops that no further provocative clergy appointments will be made?
  5. Should the American Episcopal Church's continued inclusion in the Anglican Communion be achieved at the price of excluding gay and lesbian clergy, denying church blessings for same-sex unions, or even condemning homosexuality as incompatible with Scripture?
  6. What do you make of the proposed Pastoral Forum, which will supposedly enforce on the worldwide communion a moratorium on appointments of gay or lesbian clergy, the blessing of same-sex unions, and (as conservatives are now threatening) the creation of new or alternatives provinces within already existing ones?
  7. You wouldn't even want the communion to bring an end to conservatives' efforts to create new jurisdictions or allow conservative jurisdictions (such as the Church of Nigeria) to bring breakaway congregations in other provinces under their authority?
  8. As you understand it, what real authority or power would the Pastoral Forum have? For example, could it expel a province if it violates the moratorium on any of those three points?
  9. If the moratoria are "retrospective," as some people are saying they are intended to be, is there any possibility the Episcopal Church will force you to resign?
  10. Does it appear to you that the initiatives of the conservatives' Global Anglican Future Conference [held a few weeks before the Lambeth Conference] are forcing the Anglican Communion to move toward a more conservative, unyielding stance on the hot-button issues?
  11. What have been the reactions of bishops and others to your own informal activities in and around Canterbury?
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters