Democrat opens Congress with prayer ending in 'amen and awoman;' House rules use gender-neutral terms

U.S. Capitol | Unsplash/Joshua Sukoff

As the U.S. House of Representatives is set to implement gender-neutral terms in its official operating rules for the new Congress, a Democratic congressman who is a pastor concluded an opening prayer Sunday by saying the words "amen and awoman."

During a short invocation to mark the swearing-in of the 117th Congress, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., finished his prayer that was filled with scriptural and Christian-themed phrases by invoking other gods and concluding with the phrase "amen and awoman" instead of the traditional term "Amen."

“We ask it in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and ‘god’ known by many names by many different faiths. Amen and awoman,” Cleaver, the former mayor of Kansas City, offered. 

The word "Amen," means "so be it" and is not a gendered term. 

Cleaver, who has served in the House since 2005, is an ordained United Methodist minister who holds a master’s degree from St. Paul's School of Theology of Kansas City, Missouri. 

From 1972 to 2009, he was the pastor of Kansas City’s St. James United Methodist Church. 

The 76-year-old's ending to his prayer elicited considerable mockery on social media, mostly from conservatives who were incredulous at the use of the term "awoman."

"Amen and Awoman?!?! Don’t they know that gender isn’t binary??? What about the other 42 genders??" joked Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Sunday.

Many commenters have pointed out that Amen is not a gendered word. 

"I guess the virtue signaling Democrats didn’t check the Hebrew etymology of the word ‘Amen’ to realize it has NOTHING to do with gender,” tweeted incoming Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo. “But don’t let facts get in the way of a good virtue signal. Also, didn’t those words just get banned?"

Conservative commentator Bethany Mandel quipped: "Same folks who say 'awoman' call us 'pregnant people??’"

"It’s all an act and it’s all lip service. They’ve erased the existence of women but hey they’ll say 'awoman' on the House floor and we’re supposed to lap it up,” Mandel tweeted. “How progressive! How inclusive! They think we’re idiots."

The ban Boebert referenced is the introduction of new rules in the lower legislative chamber from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who called to eliminate sex-specific terms like mother and father, son and daughter, aunt and uncle to "honor all gender identities."

In place of the sex-specific words that are no longer to be used are gender-neutral terms and phrases such as "child," "parent," "sibling" and "parent's sibling."

Supporters of the revision see it as an overture to individuals who identify as transgender or non-binary. 

Like Cleaver's conclusion to his prayer, the new rules were mocked on Twitter. 

Pelosi has called the new rules "future-focused" and "the most inclusive in history."

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is among those criticizing the rules package. 

“Democrats are banning ‘gendered’ pronouns from House rules,” he wrote, adding that words like “father, mother, son, daughter, brother, mother-in-law, daughter-in-law” would be banned. 

“This is out of control. Can we get an amen?” Jordan tweeted Monday. 

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