Not a Gay Debate

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This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, August, 5 2003  that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order a transcript of the entire show.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Episcopal (search) leaders have voted to confirm the church's first openly gay bishop.

The vote on Reverend Gene Robinson (search) was postponed yesterday after last- minute allegations surfaced, accusing Robinson of inappropriately touching another man and being affiliated with a website that has indirect links to pornography.

Robinson was absolved of the charges this afternoon after a brief investigation clearing the way for this evening's vote.

Joining us from the church's annual meeting in Minneapolis is the bishop of Washington, D.C., John B. Chane, and the president and dean of the Episcopal Divinity School, Bishop Steve Charleston.

Mr. Charleston, we'll begin with you. Certainly...Was this an attempt on the part of certain people

STEVEN CHARLESTON, EPISCOPAL BISHOP: ... turned out to be an accusation and because and it turned out to be so flimsy, I believe people will always wonder.

COLMES: What's going to happen, Bishop Bryce, to the church now? There are talking about secession, certain elements going their own way. Is that a genuine concern now?

BISHOP JOHN B. CHANE, EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF WASHINGTON: Well, I think obviously it's a concern. I've never believed that. You know, we're in a state of progression. And those persons who would have challenged us with division, which was raised long before we came here to Minneapolis, I think, might be a bit surprised by the vote that was taken here today, which says we have confidence not only in our denomination in the country but in the provinces of the communion.

COLMES: Bishop Charleston, what do you say to those who are going to inevitably say this is anti-biblical, it's anti-God. The idea that you are promoting somebody openly gay is bad for the religion and doesn't do what is right biblically?

CHARLESTON: That's a good point. Stop and think about the use of the Bible over the centuries in Christianity.

You know, there was a time when the Bible was used by Anglicans, as well as people in other denominations, to support the institution of slavery. And they would point to the Bible to give sanction to that. Well, we grew out of that and woke up and realized that that's not right.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Mr. Charleston...

CHARLESTON: Same thing with women. The Bible was used to say that women were second-class citizens. So, you can use the Bible to justify any number of things.

HANNITY: So you're saying that homosexuality is not a sin?

CHARLESTON: What I'm saying is if you look at the biblical evidence, first of all, Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. And so, if you're following exactly what scripture says, Jesus has nothing to say about that except that we should love one another, forgive one another, and be kind to one another.

If you look at other sections of the Bible, like I'm saying with slavery and women, you can justify anything.

HANNITY: You think it's acceptable with God, that lifestyle? What do you think about, you know, people, Baptists, Catholics, others that view it as a sinful lifestyle? Their interpretation is far different than yours. Are they wrong?

CHARLESTON: The interpretation that different denominations give to any biblical scripture is always open to debate. I think what we need to learn to do is not to use biblical passages like theological hand grenades that we throw at one another but instead, learn to sit at a table like mature adults and talk about it.

HANNITY: Bishop Chane, I want to ask you pretty much the same question here. I mean, there are a lot of Christians, a lot of Catholics, a lot of people that study the same Bible that you study and they look at the Old Testament, the New Testament and they believe that God believes that it's a sin; it's a sinful lifestyle.

What do you say to that?

CHANE: That's their interpretation of Holy Scripture.

HANNITY: So they're wrong?

CHANE: I didn't say that. I said that's how they interpret Holy Scripture. That's not how I interpret it.

HANNITY: …All right, Bishop Charleston, I want to go back to you for just a second. I want to make sure I understand your position on this, because I think this is important in the minds of a lot of our viewers.

If we're talking about your biblical belief and interpretation, I believe the Old Testament deals with issues of homosexuality in a way that's not favorable. But more specifically, when Jesus talks about somebody leaving their house, a son or daughter or a son, he cleaves to his wife, if you will, he doesn't talk about cleaving to his boyfriend.

When he talks about divorce, he talks about a man divorcing a woman. He doesn't talk about a man divorcing a man. You are saying in spite of him just saying, that it is just as acceptable in God's mind for a man to marry a man, a man to have sexual relations with a man or a woman with a woman as it is a man with a woman? You're saying it's the equivalent?

CHARLESTON: I didn't say anything like that at all. Actually, all I said was if you read the Bible, Jesus says nothing about homosexuality.

HANNITY: But he talks about men and women specifically being married, not men and men.

CHARLESTON: Sure, because he's discussing men and women and he's talking about them being in a relationship. If he's talking about...

HANNITY: Not men and men.

CHARLESTON: ... a regular situation in this era when they were married then of course he would talk about men and women. But nowhere in the Bible does…or in the scriptures does he say anything about homosexuality, no matter how hard you try and squeeze it, it doesn't come out that way.

COLMES: Bishop, it's really sad here that they have taken the eve of a confirmation to do a hit job on this guy.

One of the website charges, for example, were particularly specious in that it was a link to a link to a link, allegations that that link to pornography, turns out that Robinson hadn't been associated with that website for many years and when he was with that organization had nothing to do with the website itself.

CHANE: Absolutely. Absolutely. You talk about thin to thin to nothing. That's it.

COLMES: So what does the church do about this and how do you deal with these kinds of accusations within the church?

CHANE: Well, you work them through.

First of all, I think the most important thing to realize is that the process that was followed in Minneapolis was a very complex process where the voice of the whole Episcopal Church was heard.

Our process is a process that allows for laity and clergy to vote in one house and then, if it is confirmed, it goes into the House of Bishops. This was not, you know, a really soft job. Let me tell you. This really…yes.

COLMES: Bishop Charleston, what happens with those who are going to object and say we want to leave the church or we want to…what do you do about that? How do you keep the flock together?

CHARLESTON: I think the…what we do is what our presiding bishop's already said. That is, he leaves the door open for dialogue and conversation and asks people not to overreact emotionally but to stay in the room and let's talk about it with adults.

Will that work with everybody? Probably not. But with the great number of Episcopalians, it is going to be a time for us to regroup. And I don't think we're going to see the great schism that is...

HANNITY: Gentleman, I'd love to invite you both back, and I'd love to have you debate Jerry Falwell. I hope you'll come back. And I think it would be an interesting debate.

CHANE: Happy to do that. Anytime.


HANNITY: Then I'm going to set it up for next week. Thank you for being with us.


HANNITY: Appreciate your time.

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