It’s unclear who’s to blame for cutting the prayer by openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson from the TV broadcast of the Barack Obama inaugural concert.
HBO, the official US broadcaster of the event, only started its broadcast after Robinson’s introductory prayer in its live coverage of Sunday’s event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
HBO claimed that it was not to blame and that it was the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) that made the decision to cut the invocation.
The broadcaster said: “It was not an HBO omission. We merely televised the show beginning at 2:30pm. Had the PIC told us upfront that this was to be part of the telecast, it would have been.”
Many LGBT Americans could see the omission as a snub; especially considering the high profile role of homophobic preacher Rick Warren in today’s inauguration ceremony.
A spokesperson for the inaugural committee issued a statement on Monday apologising for the omission:
“We had always intended and planned for Rt. Rev. Robinson’s invocation to be included in the televised portion of yesterday’s program. We regret the error in executing this plan – but are gratified that hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on the mall heard his eloquent prayer for our nation that was a fitting start to our event.”
To make matters worse, however, it’s now been reported that due to sound problems at the event large portions of the crowd in Washington were unable to hear Robinson’s prayer.
In the prayer, Robinson asked America be blessed with “with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of colour, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.”
He went on to say: “Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.”
Speaking to NPR, Robinson said that he knew very little about the furore: “The fact of the matter is HBO is an entertainment station and perhaps an executive at HBO thought, ‘Well, who would possibly be interested in a prayer? People are tuning in to see Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder.'”
There have been unconfirmed reports that a recording of Robinson’s prayer will be played on the screens at the inauguration ceremony which is expected to attract over two million people today.