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Love Free or Die is about a man whose two defining passions much of the world cannot reconcile: his love for God and for his partner Mark. It is about church and state, love and marriage, faith and identity — and one man's struggle to dispel the notion that God's love has limits.
Gene Robinson was the first openly gay person to be elected bishop in the high church traditions of Christendom. Bishop Robinson's elevation in the sleepy New Hampshire diocese in 2003 ignited a worldwide firestorm in the Anglican Communion, one that has become so heated that there is still a chance of a schism. One year after being muzzled by the Archbishop of Canterbury, he finds himself speaking from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at Barack Obama's Inauguration. Gene Robinson confronts those who use religion as an instrument of oppression, and claims a place in the church and society, not just for LGBT people, but for everyone.
The Anglican Communion, a global church body of 80 million, is led by approximately 800 bishops. According to church history, Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire, is the only openly gay bishop ever to be consecrated since the time of Christ. The Anglican Communion, like the Catholic Church from which it emerged, believes that its bishops are the direct spiritual descendants of the twelve disciples of Christ. In 2003, the Episcopal Church in America, an arm of the Anglican Communion, made history when it installed Gene Robinson as Bishop. Gene wore a bulletproof vest to his installation and, every day since, the local police have driven by his rural New Hampshire home to provide him and his loved ones protection in the face of a steady stream of death threats.
There is an unofficial church history of bishops, popes, priests and monks living one kind of life for the history book and another off the record. It is an open secret that in the Anglican Communion today Gene Robinson is not the only gay bishop – not by a long shot. What does it signify that the Church can flourish knowing that it is rife with deception, but threatens to shatter when it affirms one man who chooses to be honest about who he is and who he loves?
Love Free or Die follows the Anglican Communion in arguably its most historic chapter since Henry VIII broke from the Roman Catholic Church for the right to divorce in 1538. From Gene’s civil union in New Hampshire, to the once-a-decade global bishops’ gathering in Canterbury, to the current fracture within the Church that’s inching toward total schism, to the biennial gathering of the Episcopal Church in America, watch the inner workings of this global moment of change from Robinson’s perspective.