Greenbelt criticised for inviting controversial gay bishop as speaker

The Greenbelt festival has been criticised for inviting controversial gay Anglican bishop Gene Robinson as one of its speakers.

Bishop Gene Robinson has been a highly controversial figure since he became the first openly gay bishop to be ordained by the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Worldwide Anglicans have spoken out fiercely against his ordination, and the incident has threatened to split the 77-million member worldwide Anglican Communion.

Many Christians have questioned by the popular annual Christian festival has decided to invite such a controversial figure as one of its core speakers. However, according to the BBC festival coordinator Beki Bateson has said the invitation was made solely on the strength of Bishop Robinson's earlier speaking appearances at other venues, and it was also emphasised that his was just one voice amongst many invited to the festival.

Canon Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream is one of those unhappy with Bishop Robinson's invitation. Even though Greenbelt is well-known as a platform for new ideas to be explored, Canon Sugden is concerned that no equal opposing viewpoint on human sexuality will be offered at the festival.

Canon Sugden said, “Gene Robinson was invited because he's a controversial celebrity. So I suggest it's a sign of prejudice by Greenbelt that they haven't invited other speakers.”

Beki Bateson, however, believes that all views of the gay debate have been aired at Greenbelt over the years, and she rejected any accusations that teenagers will leave the event with only one view of sexuality.

She said, “Greenbelt believes that young people learn what they want to learn.”