A controversy exploded into the national forum when President Obama and his family crossed the street to attend Easter services at St. John’s Church, an Episcopal church attended by every President since James Madison. In the end both the Reverend who delivered the sermon and the President were wrong.
In the sermon, Reverend Luis Leon lurched into a political diatribe against conservatives. He is quoted as saying “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 gays to be in the closet, and for immigrants to be back on their side of the border.”
First, Leon is wrong on the facts. Maybe he needs a primer on history. As for Blacks, he could just watch the recent movie Lincoln where he would see it is Republicans who lead the fight for the emancipation of Black people. He could go back to 1964 where the people stonewalling against The Civil Rights Act of 1964 were Democrats. Or he could take measure of the recent Supreme Court case regarding Gay Rights. The centerpiece of the case was a woman who was unable to inherit her partner’s assets upon her death in the same manner as heterosexual couples. The Reverend should look at who has tried to eliminate the Death Tax and which party has kept Gays from equal rights on inheritance – Democrats. Lastly, Leon should point out the Conservative or member of the religious right that has ever spoken negatively about legal immigrants to this country. He would be hard-pressed to find one.
The more important issue focuses on why Reverend Leon delivered this sermon in the first place. As a Jew, I am not an expert on Christian customs. But it would seem to me there are two days where religious leaders might keep their opinions on public policy to themselves – that would be Christmas and Easter. One would think they could stick to the subject at hand because it would seem those days are like the Super Bowl of Christianity. But Mr. Leon could not help himself and had to divert from the discussion of the Resurrection to assert himself into the national debate.
Now we do not believe that President Obama had anything to do with the inappropriate behavior of the Reverend as he used the opportunity of having the leader of the Free World to pontificate. Instead of taking a position of principle and state that as a Christian he would have preferred to hear a strictly religious sermon, Mr. Obama sent his spokesperson out to flop and flounder defending the non-defensible. Another instance of no leadership from this President.