Two Topeka pastors on Thursday delivered more than 30,000 signatures collected in an online petition demanding that Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal resign.
The Rev. Tobias Schlingensiepen, senior minister of First Congregational Church in Topeka, and the Rev. Jim McCollough of the Topeka Center for Peace and Justice turned in a white carton containing the petitions to O’Neal’s office early in the afternoon.
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The petitions, with an estimated 4,000 to 7,000 signatures from Kansans, demanded O’Neal resign for using Biblical scriptures to call for the death of President Barack Obama. The signatures were collected by the group Faithful America.
“As citizens of the United States of America, we cannot stand by and watch one political leader wish harm upon another — even the president of all U.S. citizens,” Schlingensiepen said. “It tears at the fabric of our unity and misrepresents what America stands for.”
O’Neal wasn’t available for comment Thursday.
A spokeswoman, however, said O’Neal has apologized to the Republican caucus in the House and many individual representatives, including Democrats. She distributed copies of a statement from Monday, saying that the email was only intended “as election commentary regarding the president’s days in office.”
At issue is an email that O’Neal sent out that contained the phrase “Pray for Obama. Psalm 109:8.”
It’s a slogan that has become popular in some circles on bumper stickers and other merchandise.
The Bible passage reads, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.” Critics, however, point out that the next verse of Psalm 109 continues, “May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.”
In a message accompanying the email, O’Neal wrote: “At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up — it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!”
Earlier, O’Neal apologized for another email he forwarded to some legislators that called Michelle Obama “Mrs. YoMama” and made fun of her hair.