Did Kan. House Speaker Encourage Prayers for Obama’s Death?

Kansas Speaker of the House Mike O'Neal, (R-Hutchinson) has apologized after forwarding an email that referred to first lady Michelle Obama as "Mrs. YoMama" and for offering a Bible passage in prayer regarding President Barack Obama that some interpret as calling for his death.

The email was sent from O’Neal’s personal account, LJWorld.com reported, and features a photo of Mrs. Obama with her hair swept up in the wind next to a picture of the Grinch, features O'Neal's words: "Sorry, just had to forward this latest holiday message! I've had worse hair days but this is pretty funny."

Referring to the Obama family spending the holidays in Hawaii, the message, included in the original email O'Neal forwarded, read: "I'm sure you'll join me in wishing Mrs. YoMama a wonderful, long Hawaii Christmas vacation – at our expense, of course."

O'Neal's communications director, Alyson Rodee, defended the speaker and said:

"Political cartoons are a part of American culture. It's hard to see how Mike O'Neal poking fun at himself and forwarding a lighthearted political cartoon about the first lady's extravagant spending of taxpayer funds during a time when many Americans are financially struggling is newsworthy."

O’Neal has since apologized for forwarding the email without reading the text in the body of the message, and stated: "To those I have offended, I am sorry. That was not my intent."

However, in another email forwarded to House Republicans by O’Neal, the Kansas Republican writes: “At last – I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up – it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!” O'Neal's message referenced a bumper sticker that reads: "Pray for Obama. Psalm 109:8."

"Let his days be few and brief; and let others step forward to replace him," the verse states, which Rodee insists is in reference specifically to the president’s last day in office.

Some observers are saying, however, that within the context of the passage, O’Neal, perhaps unwittingly, is actually asking people to pray for Obama’s death.

Columnist Pat Cunningham from the Rockford Register Star reminds readers that the verses that follow from the same passage read:

"May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children."

Responding to suggestions from readers that since O’Neal referenced specifically the part about Obama being replaced, he is not invoking the meaning of the rest of the passage, Cunningham expressed that no one who looks up Psalm 109 would isolate the second half of verse 8 from the rest of that Psalm. He emphasized that O'Neal himself wrote in the email "Look it up – it is word for word!" – suggesting that the speaker was indeed referring to praying for Obama's death.

The issue stirred a great deal of debate among readers of Cunningham’s article.

Some, like user "LB," were very unhappy with O’Neal’s comments, and wrote: "Being critical of the president’s job performance thus far is one thing. But this is someone who apparently has some deep rooted evil, racial hate that should be detained and/or investigated in the interest of national security."

While others insisted that the issue was being blown out of proportion and that O'Neal was in no way suggesting praying for Obama’s death. User "Rock Kennedy" wrote: "Pat Cunningham should be ashamed for trying to obscure the actual facts behind this. Why does he include verses from the referenced Psalm that O’Neal did not quote and leave out the one he did. This blog is an example with what is wrong with journalism today."

Wiley Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., said in an interview in June 2009 on Fox News Radio that he is praying for Obama to die. In a direct question by syndicated talk show host Alan Colmes about whether Drake is praying for the death of the president of the United States, the pastor said "yes."

In 2010, reportedly more than 1,000,000 fans joined a Facebook page that appeared to call for prayer for Obama's death.