Date published: March 22, 2011
Peter J. Gomes, 68, a theologian and minister at Harvard and author of the best seller The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart (1996), died February 28 in a Boston hospital. Gomes fought homophobia and intolerance through his books, sermons and speeches after he came out as a gay man. A Baptist minister. Gomes was a conservative Republican for much of his life. He gave the benediction at President Ronald Reagan's second inauguration and the National Cathedral sermon at the inauguration of President George H. W. Bush. He was minister of Harvard's nondenominational Memorial Church and a professor at Harvard Divinity School. In 1991, at a rally to protest homophobia. Gomes announced that he was "a Christian who happens as well to be gay." That declaration was "a turning point for him professionally," said the New York Times. He lectured widely and wrote against literalistic interpretations of the Bible.