A gay rabbi and a cardinal walk into a Radio 4 studio…
Rabbi's Thought of the Day quip counters Cardinal O'Brien's 'bigoted' views on same-sex marriage
BRITAIN'S first publicly gay rabbi, Rabbi Lionel Blue, won support from Radio 4 listeners this morning after telling a witty tale about same-sex marriage moments after Cardinal Keith O'Brien had called the idea "grotesque".
O'Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, had been on the Today programme defending an article he wrote in The Sunday Telegraph attacking the government's plans to legalise gay marriage.
The cardinal described the plans as "grotesque" and said they would "shame the United Kingdom". Likening gay marriage to slavery, he told John Humphrys the move would be "violating human rights" and lead to society "degenerating even further… into immorality".
Moments later Rabbi Lionel Blue read out his Thought for the Day, in which he told a humorous tale about "loving couples" walking in London in the springtime.
"A gay couple arm-in-arm walk behind a young man and his girl," he said. "Suddenly the boy and girl have a flaming row and one of the gay couple remarks sadly to his partner: 'That is what comes of mixed marriage.'"
Within an hour 'Rabbi Lionel Blue' was trending on Twitter, with tweeters praising him for "restoring sanity" after the Cardinal's tirade. Some wondered if it was a "brilliant coincidence" while others suspected he was "deployed" by the Today programme as its "own personal UN force".
One tweeter wrote that he "counters bigotry with a gentle dignity that you just can't beat" while another said: "I may be Catholic, but I'd rather go to heaven with Rabbi Lionel Blue than Cardinal Keith."
Lionel Blue has previously admitted to attempting suicide when he first realised he was homosexual as a student at Oxford. But he told the Jewish Chronicle in an interview two years ago: "Humour is the unofficial scripture of Jewish life. It takes away the anger and bitterness and replaces it with kindness and charity."