*Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) has responded to the negative reaction after he ended his opening prayer on the first day of the new Congress by saying, “Amen and A-woman.”
Cleaver told the Kansas City Star the comment was intended to recognize “the record number of women who will be representing the American people in Congress during this term as well as in recognition of the first female chaplain of the House of Representatives, whose service commenced this week.”
Cleaver, an ordained United Methodist pastor, was tapped to lead the opening prayer to start the new session.
“And dare I ask, oh Lord, peace even in this chamber now and evermore,” Cleaver said Sunday as he wrapped up Sunday’s blessing while serving as guest House chaplain. “We ask it in the name of the monotheistic god, Brahma, and God known by many names by many different faiths. Amen and awoman.”
I was honored to deliver the opening prayer for the 117th Congress. May God bless each and every Representative with the courage and wisdom to defend our democracy and the liberties we all hold so dearly. https://t.co/z3vkWOk7lc
— Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (@repcleaver) January 3, 2021
Many critics noted that “amen” is not a gender-specific word, as the term is Hebrew translating to “so be it”.
Republican U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania responded on Twitter with“It’s not a gendered word. Unfortunately, facts are irrelevant to progressives. Unbelievable.”
“[I am] deeply disappointed that my prayer has been misinterpreted and misconstrued by some to fit a narrative that stokes resentment and greater division among portions of our population,” Cleaver told the Kansas City Star. “Rather than reflecting on my faithful requests for community healing and reversion from our increasingly tribal tendencies, it appears that some have latched on to the final word of this conversation in an attempt to twist my message to God and demean me personally.”
Cleaver said the folks mocking him are proving the point he was trying to make about with his message about intolerance.
“In doing so, they have proven one point of my greater message,” Cleaver said. “That we are all ‘soiled by selfishness, perverted by prejudice and inveigled by ideology,’”.