The first female Muslim member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives said Tuesday she was “offended” by a colleague’s decision to offer a prayer to Jesus Christ at the start of a voting session.
Describing the Christian prayer as an example of “blatant Islamophobia”, Democratic Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell of Philadelphia also demanded that Rep. Stephanie Borowicz,the wife of a pastor, must be censured for daring to pray to Jesus in front of her.
“I thought that for the most part, the entire invocation was offensive,” Johnson-Harrell told reporters, noting that her own religion respects Jesus. “But to use Jesus as a weapon is not OK.”
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PennCapital-Star reports: Borowicz, R-Clinton, invoked “Jesus” 13 times, “God” six times, and “Lord” four times in the rambling, nearly two-minute long prayer that is generally intended to ecumenical and welcoming. She also expressed thanks to God that President Donald Trump “stands besides Israel.”
Borowicz’s prayer, which came on the day that Johnson-Harrell, surrounded by family and friends, was due to be sworn into office, inflamed social media and inspired a rare rebuke from the House floor Monday by the chamber’s top Democrat, who said he could not recall such a divisive prayer in his three decades in the House.
“Never have we started out with a prayer that divides us,” House Minority Leader Frank Dermody said to applause from Democratic members. “Prayer should never divide us. It should bring us together.”
Speaking to Pennsylvania Legislative Services later in the day on Monday, Borowicz said “that’s how I pray everyday,” regarding her remarks. And asked if she intended to heed Democrats’ call apologize, she said, “Oh no, I don’t apologize ever for praying.”
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