The Sermon Obama Heard Yesterday: Judge Not

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President Obama and the First Lady walk with their daughters Sasha and Malia from the White House to St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church on July 17, 2011, in Washington, D.C.

President Obama and the First Family attended church yesterday morning at St. Johns Episcopal in Lafayette Square. Rev. Luis Leon preached on Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in the gospel of Luke, and his message was clear: judgment is up to God alone, Leon said, not to people, either individuals or nations.

Leon’s message focused on Jesus’ teaching about the surprises of God’s mercy. In the parable, a Pharisee, a respected religious leader of his day, prays, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” By contrast, the tax collector, a political official associated with corruption, prays, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” Jesus looks at both of them prayers and responds, “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Leon never directly addressed the President—that usually goes against custom—but once he did hint at a national meaning of the mantra to judge not. “We Americans do it at a national level—we are prone to judge other nations by their actions, but we want to be judged by our own ideals, not by our actions,” he preached. Then he quickly turned back to the individual: “But let’s stay at the personal level.” Read into it what you will.

Here’s the sermon: