Pastor slams religious right at Obamas' Easter service

President Obama attended an Easter service with his family today at St. John's Episcopal Church near the White House, and the Pastor delivering the sermon at the service veered into political territory when he slammed the religious right for living in the past and lionizing "the good old days."

As the first family trekked across Lafayette Square to the church, Mr. Obama offered a "Happy Easter, everybody" to the press and onlookers assembled.

The sermon at the service, delivered by Dr. Luis Leon, an Episcopal pastor who delivered the benediction at Mr. Obama's second inauguration, took a turn for the political when the pastor decried those who wax nostalgic about the way things once were.

Barack Obama, Luis Leon
President Barack Obama exits St. John's Episcopal Church with Rev. Luis Leon after he and the first family attended Easter services, Sunday, March 31, 2013, in Washington.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

"I hear all the time the expression 'the good old days'," Leon said. "Well, the good old days, we forget they have been good for some, but they weren't good for everybody.

"You can't go back, you can't live in the past," he added. "It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling people 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."

"What you and I understand," Leon said, "is that when Jesus says, 'You can't hang onto me,' he says, 'You know it's not about the past, it's not about the before, it's not about the way things were, but about the way things can be in the now.'"

Luis asked his audience, "Will you accept the invitation from our Gospel today to see things with Easter vision, recognizing reality in a different and new and wonderful way?"

"Today the choice is yours," he said. "Jesus Christ is risen today - that's the proclamation. May God bless you with Easter vision now and forever. Amen."