Mr Cleaver was invited to deliver the prayer opening up the 117th Congress on Sunday, when he decided to introduce a gesture towards gender neutrality.
“We ask it in the name of the monotheistic God… God known by many names and by many different faiths. Amen, and awoman,” said Mr Cleaver, a representative from Missouri and an ordained United Methodist pastor.
It comes after a committee proposed changes in house rules to “honour all gender identities”, and eliminate gendered words like "mother," "father," "he," and "she" in favour of gender-neutral terms.
However, it received strong criticism from Republicans and several others as they pointed out that amen does not refer to gender but means “so be it” in Latin.
Pennsylvania’s Republican representative Guy Reschenthaler took to Twitter to voice his objection, and said: “Unfortunately, facts are irrelevant to progressives. Unbelievable.”
Conservative blogger Matt Walsh wrote: “Dems open congress with a prayer that ends “amen and awoman.” Amen is a Latin word that means “truly” or “so be it”. Awoman is a nonsense word that means nothing. Dems find a way to make everything stupid and nonsensical. Utter clowns, all of them.”
According to Christianity.com, “amen is a word that came to English from Latin, which got it from Greek, which got it from Aramaic, which got it from Hebrew (technically, Aramaic may have had it anyway, before it became the standard language of the Jewish people a few centuries before the time of Christ).”
Some conservatives also objected to the fact that Mr Cleaver’s prayer included the name of “Brahma”, the Hindu god, as he talked about “the monotheistic God”. A Twitter user Chase wrote: “A Methodist preacher praying in the name of the “monotheistic God....and brahma?? Forget the a-woman, words can’t even begin to explain.”
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