Pastors to deliver petition calling for House Speaker Mike O’Neal’s resignation

House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson

Two pastors from Topeka plan to hand deliver more than 30,000 signatures this afternoon demanding that House Speaker Mike O’Neal resign because of an e-mail he forwarded to other House Republicans.

That e-mail is about President Barack Obama and quotes Psalm 109:8: “Let his days be few and brief; and let others step forward to replace him.”

The Hutchinson Republican leader said he thought that to mean Obama’s days in office — not death. The Bible quote has been used on bumper stickers and has been widely circulated on the Internet. But the context from the King James Version of the Bible has been pointed out by critics. The next verse reads: “May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.”

O’Neal’s office issued a statement regarding the e-mail and criticism about it. “I understand the debate over the verse interpretation, about which I have explained and for which I have repeatedly apologized to the extent anyone misconstrued my intent or was otherwise offended,” O’Neal said. “I respect both the president and the office.”

The petition surfaced on the Internet activism website Faithful America. It says: “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.”

Rev. Tobias Schlingensiepen, a senior minister at First Congregational Church in Topeka and Rev. Jim McCollough, executive director of Topeka Center for Peace and Justice will deliver the signatures and talk at a news conference at 1 p.m. in the Statehouse.