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Robinson under
FBI protection after death threats

Robinson under
FBI protection after death threats

The Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop-elect is under 24-hour protection by the FBI as his consecration as the bishop of New Hampshire approaches. The Reverend V. Gene Robinson, who will be consecrated next Sunday, told a conference for gay priests in Manchester, England, this weekend that he has received death threats from Christian fundamentalists and that there are grave concerns for his safety. Conference organizers said that the FBI advised the bishop-elect to cancel his plans to speak in person at the event because his safety could not be guaranteed, The [London] Daily Telegraph reports. Addressing the delegates via a satellite link from Concord, N.H., Robinson said that the extra precautions are costing "unbelievable amounts of money--money we don't have. The standing committee of the diocese is taking this very seriously, as is the bishop. We are doing what we need to do to keep me safe so that I can try to keep making the witness that I am trying to make." Robinson said he is surprised by the volume of hate mail he has received, including a postcard from England describing him as a "fornicating lecherous pig." But the negative messages have been easily outweighed by letters and e-mails of support, he said. "There have been all kinds of wonderful messages from around the world about what this means to people, especially from those not in cities or churches where it is safe to be who they are. The fact of the matter is that I am neither the devil one side would take me to be, nor the saint that others would have me to be. I am trying to hold on to who I am, as a human being and as a Christian on his own journey toward God." Despite numerous calls by church conservatives for him to step aside, Robinson said he is determined that his consecration will proceed while acknowledging the dilemma faced by the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who has been grappling with a potentially major split in the worldwide Anglican Communion over Robinson's election. Williams was scheduled to attend the consecration but reportedly has pulled out under pressure from conservatives. "I have told him in a letter that I am praying for him and that I am so very aware of the difficulties that he is in," Robinson said of Williams. "He is only doing what he said he would do, which was to sacrifice his personal views and seek to hold the church together while upholding the official policy of the church." Robinson added that despite his disagreements with many church leaders over homosexuality, it should not mean that they have to split over the issue.

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