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hardball
updated 4/1/2013 10:18:05 PM ET 2013-04-02T02:18:05

Rush Limbaugh and one of his callers agreed that President Obama may have "inspired" the "racism" in a pastor's remarks.

Yes, we’ve been here before: President Obama has a “Pastor Problem”–at least according to the right.

The Obama family attended Easter services at St. John’s Episcopal Church, just a short distance from the White House. The Obamas have attended St. John’s for previous Easter services, and according to Church history, every president since James Madison has visited the Church. For that reason, a pew nine rows back from the altar is a designated “The President’s Pew” and has the brass plaque to prove it.

The pastor at Sunday’s services was also no stranger to hosting the President of the United States. Rev. Dr. Luis León was tapped to give the benediction at President Obama’s second inauguration ceremony in January, and President George W. Bush often attended Rev. Dr. León’s services at St. John’s while in Office.

All that aside, some of the pastor’s remarks on Sunday had Fox News suggesting that President Obama had run into “Another Pastor Problem.” During the service, Rev. Dr. Luis León expressed frustration at Christian conservatives who use religion to create division and stand in the way of progress for certain groups.

“It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling people back,” he said in the sermon. “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.”

The pastor said that nostalgia for the “good old days” fails to acknowledge the struggles of blacks, women, and gays. “We forget [the old days] have been good for some but they weren’t good for everybody,” he said.

The remarks set off a heated reaction from Christian conservatives and others on the right.

Aside from the Fox News headlong, Mark Tooley, president of The Institute on Religion & Democracy, said that Leon had used the opportunity to take “cheap shots.” On The Rush Limbaugh Show on Monday, Limbaugh and a caller agreed that the pastor’s remarks were in fact a racist attack, “inspired” by President Obama. “That may well be the case,” Limbaugh said in response to the caller.

Take a look at the Hardball Sideshow for more on the controversy.

Video: Sideshow: 'Rush'-ing to judgment

  1. Closed captioning of: Sideshow: 'Rush'-ing to judgment

    >>> ha! back to "hardball." now to the sideshow. first, when will they ever learn? sue everhart, georgia's gop chairwoman spoke out against same-sex marriage. here's her quote. "you may be straight as an arrow and have a friend who's straight as an arrow, say you have a great job with government where you have this wonderful health care plan. ha would prohibit you from saying you're gay and you all get married and say, they still live separately but you get all the benefits? there's no way this is about equality. to me, it's all about a free ride." that's the head of georgia's republican party , about people pretending to be gay. did you ever think of a man and a woman doing exactly what she just worried about?

    >>> also things took a turn for the political yesterday when president obama and his family attended easter surface across lafayette park in st. john's church. the pastor, dr. luis malone called out some of the religious right. "it drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling people back. for gays to be in the closet, for immigrants to be on their side of the border." now the response from rush limbaugh . in reaction to a caller who said president obama inspired a racist attack from that pastor.

    >> that's an interesting take that the president inspires it, inspires racism. it may well be the case. so obama's presence inspires this guy to go all divisive, all racist and start jamming on the republicans for wanting blacks in the back of the bus and women back in the kitchen. when he can't name a single person who does. but the president of the united states , you may be right, may have inspired that in this preacher.

    >> actually, rushbo, racism is the belief that one race, whites, should rule all others. get your definitions straight.

    >>> next, there's, of course, no evidence sharia law is infiltrating the state of florida , but lawmakers are pushing a bill that would prevent islamic law from finding its way into american courtrooms. hayes suggest we think of it as a vaccine.

    >> did your parents have you vaccinated against different diseases?

    >> yes, sir.

    >> that was a preemptive gesture on their part which i would hope you're very thankful. this is similar to that. your mom and dad did not want you to get sick from those dreadful diseases. i don't want any american to be in a florida courtroom and be influenced, have their constitutional rights violated by any foreign law. that's it. this is not complicated.

    >> so why don't we pass laws saying the rule of mars cannot be applied in, say, florida courtrooms?

    >>> finally the white house commemorates april fool a's day with a special message from the president.

    >> looks like you were expecting somebody else. april fool 's on all you all. i'm a cute president and i hope everyone has a nice day. i made it to the white house . i'm here. think i'm stuck.

    >> kid president. that's him. made his mark as a youtube sensation. he's apparently risen in the ranks.

    >>> up next, north korea rattles i weapons again. is there something different this time? you're watching "hardball." the place for

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