The uproar over Rep. Emanuel Cleaver's modification of the opening prayer for the 117th Congress to include the phrase "Amen and a-woman" was a case of "orchestrated outrage," the Missouri Democrat told Fox News Tuesday.
Cleaver, a Methodist pastor, told "Your World" host Neil Cavuto that "99.999% of the people who are expressing outrage didn't hear the prayer.
"The prayer wasn't for them," he added. "I'm talking to God on behalf of Congress, asking for unity and so forth, asking God to give us that strength to do that. I ended the prayer by saying, 'Hey, man, we have a record number of women in Congress, including the first [female] chaplain in 240 years of United States history …'"
"All that's well and good, Congressman," Cavuto pointed out. "But the 'amen' is actually from the Hebrew word that means 'so be it'. It has nothing to do with gender. So were you just making a point here, or were you saying something bigger?"
"I ended the prayer by saying 'Amen,' which comes from the Hebrew root word …" Cleaver explained. "The 'a-woman' was after the prayer ended, trying to recognize the record number of women now in Congress and a female chaplain."
Cleaver added that "as I left the chamber, Republicans and Democrats were saying, 'Well, thank you for that prayer. We really needed somebody to ask God for unity.' I mean, Republicans and Democrats [said that]. It was not until, the way society works now, the Twitter world, you know, sent it out to the people who expressed outrage to them."