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FFRF’s Andrew Seidel explains how House ‘awoman’ prayer contretemps misses the point

1AndrewSeidelPressSmallAndrew L. Seidel, FFRF’s director of strategic response, has written an op-ed for Religion Dispatches about a recent prayer in the U.S. House of Representatives that has Christian Nationalists in an uproar for all the wrong reasons.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, an ordained minister, ended the prayer “Amen, and awoman.” Andrew’s column, “Rep. Cleaver’s ‘awoman’ prayer enrages Christian Nationalists who taste their own

1AndrewSeidelPressSmallAndrew L. Seidel, FFRF’s director of strategic response, has written an op-ed for Religion Dispatches about a recent prayer in the U.S. House of Representatives that has Christian Nationalists in an uproar for all the wrong reasons.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, an ordained minister, ended the prayer “Amen, and awoman.” Andrew’s column, “Rep. Cleaver’s ‘awoman’ prayer enrages Christian Nationalists who taste their own medicine and still miss the point,” explains that the kerfuffle over the prayer misunderstands the problem — there should be no government prayers in the first place:

Amen and awoman. Exclusion and inclusion. Division and diversity. Religion and nonreligion. Rep. Cleaver (D-MO) ignited these flammable dichotomies delivering the House’s opening prayer for this session and ending it:

“We ask it in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and God known by many names and by many different faiths. Amen, and awoman.”

The prayer might have been written by Saul Bellow’s Good Intentions Paving Company. But good intentions matter little when the underlying act is improper. Cleaver is an ordained minister and U.S. Representative—combining those two roles is never a good idea. Deep down, Cleaver seems to have been attempting inclusion and humor, but by mixing religion and government, he angered nearly everyone.

Theologically, objections abound, but those are questions for churches and theologians to grapple with, not our government.

Seidel explains that government prayer is consistently and inherently divisive, even if done with inclusive intentions. Religion divides us. If politicians want to unite the country and deliver inclusive messages, they need to check their prayer at the Capitol doors. Read the whole piece on Religion Dispatches and please share it on your social media.

Fun bonus fact: Seidel’s previous article for Religion Dispatches, “Inevitable megachurch abuse of PPP funds is coming to light — private jet included,” went viral and was the number one article on the site for all of 2020. (The Religion Dispatches article about its top articles even took its title from a previous essay of Seidel.) The Strategic Response Team’s efforts to educate the public are bearing fruit.

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