Minister criticizes ‘captains of the religious right’ at Obama’s Easter service

Updated 2:10 p.m.

With President Obama and his family in the pews for Easter Sunday worship, the Rev. Luis Leon at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington's Lafayette Square took the opportunity to take a shot at political conservatives, arguing from the pulpit that some conservative positions are holding people back.

Quoting from John 20:1-18, Leon said in the same way Jesus told Mary Magdalene not to hold onto him, it is time for conservatives to stop holding on to what he considers outdated stances on race, gender equality, homosexuals and immigrants.

“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.


Leon said people instead should use “Easter vision” to allow them to see the world in a different, more “wonderful” way.

After the sermon, Leon told the Washington Post that he was speaking about Mary realizing that she shouldn’t hold on, accepting it, and changing from that point on.

"That is the invitation for all of us,” Leon said. When asked to discuss his criticism of political conservatives, he said: “I will keep my thoughts there.”

Obama has visited the church, which is steps from the White House, several times during his presidency, including for Easter worship in 2012. Like most of his previous visits to churches in the District, Obama did not make a speech. He sat on the end of a pew near the middle of the sanctuary, smiling and greeting members of the congregation with a “Happy Easter.”

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Hamil Harris is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of The Washington Post.
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