President Obama is under fire for the sermon he heard at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Easter Sunday, with Rush Limbaugh suggesting the president may have inspired the supposedly racist rhetoric from the pastor.
A handful of conservative media outlets jumped on the remarks that Rev. Luis Leon delivered during Sunday’s service, in which he complained to the congregation about the religious right.
“It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling people back, never forward, forgetting that we are called to be a pilgrim’s people,” he said. “The captains of the religious right are always calling us back, back, back. For blacks to be back in the back of the bus, for women to be back in the kitchen, for gays to be in the closet and for immigrants to be on their side of the border.”
Rush Limbaugh took the criticism further on his Monday radio show, responding to a caller by complaining that that “it may well be the case” that the president “inspires racism” in people and claiming that Obama “is indeed a racist and he promotes racist behavior whenever he can.”
Limbaugh continued his argument, “Obama’s presence inspires this guy to go all divisive, all racist. And start jamming on the Republicans for wanting blacks in the back of the bus, women back in the kitchen, when he can’t name a single person who does.”
“I know this president’s not interested in unifying people,” he added.
Rev. Leon’s rhetoric may have been strong, but the essence of his argument is supported by a quick analysis of the GOP policies.
The right’s extensive and unapologetic support for voter suppression measures sure isn’t helping promote equality. And while the right may not be literally arguing that women should go “back to the kitchen,” the Republican fight against reproductive freedom and equal pay measures help to push women in that direction.
Republicans have been engaged in an internal firestorm over how to approach marriage equality, with many of the religious members of the party voicing their opposition to same-sex marriage rights and even slamming those in the party who wish to embrace it.
Despite what the comparisons some want to draw, Leon is no Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Leon has been a pastor at St. John’s for years, well known as the Church of the Presidents. He gave the invocation at President Obama’s second inauguration, and did the same for President George W. Bush in 2005, who said he considered Leon a close friend.