Speaker O’Neal apologizes over anti-Obama email, but will stay in office

? Two ministers on Thursday delivered more than 30,000 petition signatures calling for the resignation of House Speaker Mike O’Neal for an email he forwarded that referred to President Barack Obama and a Bible verse that says “Let his days be few and brief.”

In a prepared statement, O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, issued an apology. O’Neal’s office said he is not stepping down.

Revs. Tobias Schlingensiepen and Jim McCollough on Thursday deliver petition signatures in the Capitol seeking ouster of House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, over recent emails he has forwarded.

After leaving the box of petition signatures in the speaker’s office, Rev. Tobias Schlingensiepen, senior minister of the First Congregational Church in Topeka, said O’Neal’s apology went further than previous statements by the speaker.

But Schlingensiepen said O’Neal still should leave office. His recent emails that have attracted national attention “tears at the civility of this country,” Schlingensiepen said.

State Rep. Melody McCray-Miller, D-Wichita, says she wants the House to issue some kind of sanction against the speaker. She said the speaker’s actions need to be taken seriously and “need to stop.”

The petition against O’Neal was put together by the online network Faithful America and criticizes the speaker for forwarding an email that cites Psalm 109:8 that says, “Let his days be few and brief; and let others step forward to replace him.”

The email states: “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!!!!!!”.

The petition reads: “As people of faith, we believe that scripture should never be used to justify praying for the death of anyone. Speaker O’Neal’s hateful abuse of scripture is unacceptable and a disgrace to his office, and he should immediately resign.”

Schlingensiepen and Rev. Jim McCollough, executive director of the Topeka Center for Peace and Justice, noted the next verse in the psalm talks about making children orphans and wife a widow.

But O’Neal has said he was referring to Obama’s days in office, not his death.

“I respect the President and the Office,” O’Neal said in his statement. “The forward contained a single verse and was only intended as election commentary regarding the President’s days in office. I have apologized and I am sincerely sorry,” he said.

In recent weeks, O’Neal has also apologized for forwarding an email that referred to first lady Michelle Obama as “Mrs. YoMama” and compared a picture of her to the fictional character Grinch. O’Neal said he forwarded that email too without being aware of the “Mrs. YoMama” reference.