President Obama and his family attended Easter services at St. John’s Episcopal Church – walking distance from the White House – where they heard the Rev. Luis Leon urge conservatives to reject outdated stances on hot-button social issues.
“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 told parishioners. The pastor, who also delivered the benediction at Obama’s second inaugural, said he hoped people would use “Easter vision” to allow them to see the world in a more “wonderful” way.
The right really wasn’t pleased. Fox helped lead the charge yesterday, and as Media Matters noted, other conservatives quickly joined the fray. This complaint, by way of Kevin Drum, was especially rich.
“It’s sad when clergy egregiously politicize worship,” Mark Tooley, president of the conservative Christian organization Institute on Religion and Democracy, wrote in one of several blogs and articles that have criticized the sermon.
Look, if conservatives want to talk about the propriety of criticizing the religious right movement during an Easter sermon, fine, we can at least have the conversation. They might even have a point.
But let’s skip the indignation about “politicizing worship,” OK? Ben Carson used the ostensibly-non-political National Prayer Breakfast to condemn the Affordable Care Act, and the right immediately decided he should be president of the United States. The religious right movement has spent several decades trying to erase the line separating politics and faith, going so far as to create a specific annual event in which pastors are urged to endorse candidates for public office – from their pulpits – in deliberate violation of federal tax law.
Does the right really want to get into a debate about the scourge of “politicized worship”?