Obama hears hint of politics during Easter sermon
April 1st, 2013
08:35 AM ET
2 years ago

Obama hears hint of politics during Easter sermon

(CNN) – The Easter sermon President Barack Obama and his family heard Sunday, delivered at a church near the White House, took to task the "religious right" for backward-looking policies.

The Rev. Luis Leon, speaking at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, based his sermon on the Gospel of John. He noted that Jesus told Mary Magdalene not to hold on to him, and linked the story to conservatives he said were looking to the past.

"It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling us back ... for blacks to be back in the back of the bus ... for women to be back in the kitchen ... for immigrants to be back on their side of the border," Leon said.

"The message of Easter is about the power of love over loveless power," he continued.

Instead of recalling how things were easier in the past, Leon urged listeners to focus instead on the present.

"God addresses us in the now," he said.

Obama tapped Leon to deliver the benediction at his second inauguration after controversy forced his first pick for that slot to step aside.

St. John's is known informally as "the church of the presidents" and has a pew dedicated for the president.


Filed under: President Obama • Religion
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    I could care less about what the religious right wants to do. Just as long as they do it to themselves without forcing whatever it might be this month on the rest of us. The religious right fails to accept the law of the land, that being that in this country "frreedom OF religion" also means "freedom FROM religion."

    April 1, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  2. plain&simple

    A progressive church which has women priests and accepts gay clergy. A church that views us all as children of god and god loves us all equally!!! Jesus was crucified because of politics,so to hear a strong sermon today only continues in the tradition of Christianity. More power to a good Christian minister for speaking the truth.

    April 1, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  3. Fair is Fair

    Oh really?

    Take away his tax-exempt status.

    April 1, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    "It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling us back ... for blacks to be back in the back of the bus ... for women to be back in the kitchen ... for immigrants to be back on their side of the border,"
    ---------------------------------------------------
    Amen to that. Those Bible thumpers claim to be holier than thou, but carry views that are unchristian like. They're all for stopping abortions, but they'll protest at the funeral of afallen soldier. The should practive what they preach. By the way, that President looks real sharp in that gray suit.

    April 1, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  5. Anonymous

    leon does not represent the Majority american believers and he certainly doesnt represent Jesus in anyway shape or form. He is one of the many fallen away.

    April 1, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  6. Malory Archer

    Fair is Fair

    Oh really?

    Take away his tax-exempt status.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Why? It hasn't been done to churches whose ministers during the last four Presidental elections, told their congregants to vote AGAINST the Democratic candidates or they'd no longer be welcome in the church. That's a much more serious issue, yet you didn't complain about that. Hypocrisy reigns supreme in your little world, doesn't it?

    April 1, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  7. Mark

    Jesus would probably have been cables as one of the "religious right" by these folks. If this pastor and his friends want to see who is responsible for most of the racism and sexism today, all they have to do is look in the mirror and at our community organizer in chief... .

    April 1, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  8. rla

    This story is ignorant to say the least. I wonder if thid pastor ever get out of his church or better yet DC. Wonder if the White House asked for a copy of his sermon???

    April 1, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  9. Fair is Fair

    "They're all for stopping abortions, but they'll protest at the funeral of afallen soldier."
    ----–
    I'll assume you're talking about Westboro... and if so, you're talking about an infintesimal fraction of people of faith, of which the rest of us find to be disgusting as well. Way to paint with a broad brush, though.

    April 1, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  10. Anti-marx

    Typical Libral Social religion– demonize a group for what they don't say. No serious leader of the "religious right" is calling for putting blacks to the back of the bus, nor repealing the civil rights laws, nor forcing women to become domesticated, nor deporting legal immigrants. As in all public lies, the shred of truth is that they want the illegal immigrants to return to home and apply for legal status the way our countries laws demand. If our immigration laws are not reasonable, then change the law, don't just overlook a legal process that others must follow.

    April 1, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  11. Fair is Fair

    Malory Archer

    Fair is Fair

    Oh really?

    Take away his tax-exempt status.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Why? It hasn't been done to churches whose ministers during the last four Presidental elections, told their congregants to vote AGAINST the Democratic candidates or they'd no longer be welcome in the church. That's a much more serious issue, yet you didn't complain about that. Hypocrisy reigns supreme in your little world, doesn't it?
    ------
    Just using the same arguement the left puts out when it's the other way around... nice job taking the bait.

    April 1, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  12. WouldYouLookAtThat

    Rudy NYC

    "I could care less about what the religious right wants to do. Just as long as they do it to themselves without forcing whatever it might be this month on the rest of us."
    --------------------------------------------------–

    Well, it's about time you and the rest of the looney left start practicing what you "preach." I'm not a part of the "religious" half of the right. The self-proclaimed "part of tolerance" is definitely not tolerant of people outside of their beliefs. Instead, they choose to chastize those who believe in the constitution, those who believe in God, etc... Maybe, if you want others to be more accepting, you, too, should be more accepting.

    April 1, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  13. chrcon

    What a surprise the left wing news media who always preaches "tolerance" claims this unfounded attack is only "a hint of politics." Is it any wonder the news media has so little credibility. This so called "pastor" needs to apologize. President Obama needs to stop attending churches headed by hate filled pastors. Perhaps he can find a church that actually teaches Biblical truth instead of those that long ago ceased to be Christian churches.

    April 1, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  14. Getoverit

    @Rudy NYC
    I could care less about what the religious right wants to do. Just as long as they do it to themselves without forcing whatever it might be this month on the rest of us.
    -----------
    Yeah, like gay marriage. Oh, wait, that's the left, so it's ok.

    April 1, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  15. plain&simple

    Those people posting that Jesus would be on the side of the radical right,show just how little they know of Christ and his teaching.

    April 1, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  16. Catmandew

    Mark you are right on target with that comment!! The people complaining the most about racism are the worst and almost always are doing that everyday they don't look in the mirror!

    April 1, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  17. James Bond

    Not a time or place for politics, imo

    April 1, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  18. timverba

    I must give a thumbs down to the CNN Political Unit. I have never heard of a two minute Eastern sermon. A homily lasts longer. But the Political Unit takes two lines from a speech that I know would last at least twenty minutes and be the focus of a specific biblical text. Did the pastor just stand up and ponder about his dislike for the religious right? What was the real foundation of th sermon? What specific verses of the Gospel of John? Come on CNN, be a little more thorough.

    April 1, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  19. Malory Archer

    Fair is Fair

    --
    Just using the same arguement the left puts out when it's the other way around... nice job taking the bait.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Not so much "taking the bait" as calling you on your false equivalency. Thanks for playing!

    April 1, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  20. Catmandew

    If more people treated others as they would like to be treated alot of these problems would be avoided and society would start prospering again. We don't need government to tell us how to live if we do right by each other and government can stay home then!

    April 1, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  21. James Bond

    Let us not forget, we all want the same thing, a strong, prosperous country, we may disagree on how to get there, but, keep the love, temper the hate. there is too much intolerance on both sides.

    April 1, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  22. Fair is Fair

    Malory Archer

    Fair is Fair

    -
    Just using the same arguement the left puts out when it's the other way around... nice job taking the bait.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Not so much "taking the bait" as calling you on your false equivalency. Thanks for playing!
    -------
    Let's see... a minister preaches on politics from the right and the left says "take away their tax-exempt status". A minister preaches on politics from the left, and I say "take away their tax-exempt status". Where's the false equivalence? Johnny will give you your lovely parting gifts now...

    April 1, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Well, it's about time you and the rest of the looney left start practicing what you "preach." I'm not a part of the "religious" half of the right. The self-proclaimed "part of tolerance" is definitely not tolerant of people outside of their beliefs. Instead, they choose to chastize those who believe in the constitution, those who believe in God, etc... Maybe, if you want others to be more accepting, you, too, should be more accepting.
    --------------------------------
    Seriouisly" I should be more accepting? I wrote that they are free to do whatever they wish. If I didn't accept them for what they are, then wouldn't you think that I would be saying something else besides, "let them be." The problem is that they cross the line and do not let others be. They wish to impose, control and dictate.

    Intolerant? Imposing your beliefs on others defines the word "intolerant." Trying to erradicate other ideas and beliefs that do not fit your own world, view, that's "intolerant."

    April 1, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  24. Anonymous

    I'll assume you're talking about Westboro... and if so, you're talking about an infintesimal fraction of people of faith, of which the rest of us find to be disgusting as well. Way to paint with a broad brush, though."

    The day after Easter and here you are nipping at others? Referencing your own comments this a.m., I'd be very careful of whom you include as "people of faith".

    April 1, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Getoverit wrote:

    @Rudy NYC "I could care less about what the religious right wants to do. Just as long as they do it to themselves without forcing whatever it might be this month on the rest of us."

    Yeah, like gay marriage. Oh, wait, that's the left, so it's ok.
    -------–
    Is anyone forcing you into a gay marriage? Is anyone forcing your church to perform gay marriages? Get over it. It's here to stay. I don't like it anymore than you apparently do, but I'm tolerant of it. They are not members of my church, so I have no right to impose the beliefs of my church upon them. That's the law of the land.

    "Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's" I recall that Jesus condemned those who did believe in that as hypocrites.

    April 1, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
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