by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver caused a social media storm Monday, closing a public prayer with “Amen and a woman,” as if the Hebrew word meaning “let it be” was somehow gendered. Cleaver, of course, later claimed the embarrassing episode was actually “a lighthearted pun” in recognition of women, a description that might draw water on paper, but which the video clearly shows is not the case.
But there’s far more than simple ignorance on display in the Democrat and Methodist pastor’s blessing of the new year’s legislative session. The prayer’s true scandal was largely ignored — and is indicative of a widespread societal shift toward a serious and dangerous misunderstanding of both Christianity and tolerance.
Cleaver opened his blessing in perfect line with Christian faith, acknowledging God’s “sacred supremacy,” the fallen nature of man, and the dangers to our tenuous democracy, as well as asking for God to illuminate our ideologies and prejudices so that we might work to better ourselves. But at the closing (and before the “a woman” foolishness) Cleaver said, “We ask this in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and God known by many names and faiths.”
While many in the United States, especially in politics and the media, might think that a Christian pastor praying to Brahma (the god Hindus worship as the founding god of their polytheistic religion) is well and fine, this is no minor scandal. The First — First — Commandment given Moses by the Lord is “I am the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me… for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.”