Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., altered the traditional ending of “amen” by saying “Amen and awoman” as he delivered the opening prayer for the 117th Congress on Sunday — raising eyebrows.
The video was posted online and he was criticized by other lawmakers who said he was wrong to attempt to assign gender to the word “amen.”
Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., took to Twitter to note that the word amen is “Latin for ‘so be it.’”
“It’s not a gendered word,” he posted. “Unfortunately, facts are irrelevant to progressives. Unbelievable.”
Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich slammed the move as fresh evidence of Democrats moving to the left: “the radical madness has begun.”
Cleaver’s office did not respond to an email from Fox News.
Cleaver is an ordained United Methodist pastor and was tapped to lead the opening prayer to start the new session. Congress swore in new lawmakers on Sunday and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was re-elected as House speaker.
Just a day ago, Pelosi introduced new House rules she said will help the body become more inclusive. A 45-page package that will be voted on Monday strips all mention of gender-specific pronouns and terms such as “man,” “woman,” “mother” and “son.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Cleaver Was Criticized on Twitter for the ‘Amen and Awoman’ Prayer
Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., was one of the first to take note of Cleaver’s addition to the traditional prayer closing. He shared a clip of the prayer on Twitter just before 6 p.m. January 3, 2021.
“The prayer to open the 117th Congress ended with ‘amen and a-women,’ Reschenthaler tweeted. “Amen is Latin for ‘so be it.’ It’s not a gendered word. Unfortunately, facts are irrelevant to progressives. Unbelievable.”
Cleaver also mentioned the Hindu god, Brahma, in the closing of his prayer.
“We ask it in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and ‘god’ known by many names by many different faiths,” Cleaver prayed.
Cleaver Is a United Methodist Pastor & Said He Was Honored to Deliver the Opening Prayer
Cleaver is an ordained United Methodist pastor, according to Fox News. Cleaver shared the full video of his prayer on Twitter on the afternoon of January 3, saying he was honored he was asked to deliver it.
“I was honored to deliver the opening prayer for the 117th Congress,” he wrote. “May God bless each and every Representative with the courage and wisdom to defend our democracy and the liberties we all hold so dearly.”
While many of the comments on his post were supportive, some questioned his inclusion of multiple religions, and others simply asked whether he knew what “amen” means.
“Bruh you do know what Amen means right?” one person wrote in a comment.
Another person, who identified himself as a fellow UMC pastor, was stunned Cleaver did not seem to know the meaning of the word “amen.”
“Dear Representative, As a fellow UMC pastor I am shocked at your not knowing that amen is a Hebrew word meaning ‘so be it.’ It has nothing to do with gender or masculinity. I believe you made an honest mistake in ending your Invocation today but please correct it,” the comment said.
Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich also addressed the prayer, writing “the radical madness has begun.”
Cleaver is serving his seventh term representing Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, according to his website. He serves as a member of the House Committee on Financial Services, the Chair of the subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy, a member of the Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, a member of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security and a member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.
His prayer, which was just over two minutes long, began with an acknowledgement of a new beginning, saying “we leave behind the politically and socially clamorous year of 2020.”
“God, at a moment when many believe that the bright light of democracy is beginning to dim, empower us with an extra dose of commitment to its principles,” he continued.
Heavy.com contacted Cleaver’s office for comment Monday morning. They did not immediately respond.
The Associated Press contributed to this report