It is "sad" to see the word 'Amen' be "misunderstood and misused", the Bishop of Worcester has said after a prayer to open Congress on Sunday was ended with the words "Amen and a woman".
Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, an ordained United Methodist minister, was accused of virtue signalling on social media over the closing to his prayer during the swearing-in ceremony for the 117th Congress.
Commenting on Twitter, Bishop John Inge said the Congressman's choice of words was "bizarre".
"Christians, Muslims and Jews all use the word 'Amen'," the bishop said.
"It is arguably the best known word in human speech. In the Hebrew Scriptures it is an acronym meaning 'God, King (who is) trustworthy, reliable.' How sad to see it so misunderstood and misused."
I was honored to deliver the opening prayer for the 117th Congress. May God bless each and every Representative with the courage and wisdom to defend our democracy and the liberties we all hold so dearly. https://t.co/z3vkWOk7lc— Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (@repcleaver) January 3, 2021
Other commentators vented that the term has nothing to do with gender.
Republican Congressman Tim Burchett said: "The opening prayer just ended with 'amen and a woman'. It has absolutely nothing to do with gender. It is Latin for so be it. This is political correctness gone way off the rails."
Representative Lauren Boebert tweeted: "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.
"But don't let facts get in the way of a good virtue signal. Also, didn't those words just get banned?"
The controversial prayer came just two days after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced new gender neutral rules for Congress.
The rules state that Congress will "honor all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral".
Conservative commentator Bethany Mandel noted the irony of referring to 'woman' following the switch to gender neutral terms.
"Same folks who say 'awoman' call us 'pregnant people??'" she said.
"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.
"How progressive! How inclusive! They think we're idiots."