President Obama sure is serpent-bit when it comes to going to church.
First, it was his longtime Chicago preacher who dragged the young presidential aspirant into hot water with all his fiery old sermons about the U.S. of KKK and chickens coming home to roost. Now, his most regular preacher, we find out, hangs out with white supremacists.
On Easter Sunday, this preacher admitted to his congregation — including Mr. Obama and his family — that fellow preachers of his want to return to the days of segregation.
They want "for blacks to be back in the back of the bus," revealed the Rev. Luis Leon of St. John's Episcopal Church on Easter Sunday.
Talk about being known by the company you keep. Now, I am not a member of that church and I do not know the types of "holy" men Mr. Leon regularly cavorts with around bonfires after dark in their white robes. But, like the vast majority of wicked sinners, I can honestly say I do not know a single man of the cloth today who says he would like to bring back segregation.
When pressed for specifics about who these hatemongers are that he communes with, Mr. Leon opted to cover for them and refused further comment. "I will keep my thoughts there," he was later quoted telling a reporter.
As shocking and deplorable as protecting this kind of racism is, it should come as little surprise that Luis Leon runs with such a beastly crowd considering the kind of preacher he is.
Those of us who prefer our church and state to be strictly separate are accustomed to cringing at cloying politicians who wallow in church teachings to round up voters during political seasons. The only thing more detestable are preachers who play politician and sermonize about partisan politics.
In addition to admitting his association with white supremacists who want blacks to ride at the back of the bus again, Mr. Leon talked about "captains of the religious right" and sermonized about all the hot-button political topics of the day orating about women, gays and illegal immigration. He talked about those, he said, who want "women back in the kitchen," gays back in the closet, and illegal aliens to be back "on their side of the border." (Yes, not only does Mr. Leon confuse that which is Caesar's with that which is God's, he is also insufferably stupid.)
Such men of the cloth so gripped by the political power of the pulpit have been around since before the time of Jesus. And Jesus harangued against these worldly merchants of politics. Indeed, He dined with whores, thieves, adulterers, liars, cheats and even tax collectors.
But when it came to the Sadducees and Pharisees, Jesus could not contain his scorn.
For a power-drunk church politico like Mr. Leon, there is no higher calling than the church on the edge of Lafayette Square fronting the White House. And to look out into the crowd and see the leader of the free world sitting with his family in his midst must be truly exhilarating beyond imagination for him.
One can almost see Mr. Leon standing in his pulpit, eyes wheeling back into his skull and sniffing the powerful air around him like Hannibal Lecter dreaming of slices of human liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti.
Poor President Obama. So attuned to politics is he that he must have cringed when he heard this Easter sermon, knowing that once again he would be held responsible for the mad ravings of yet another preacher.
•Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.