The first Muslim woman to be elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives called an opening prayer by her fellow lawmaker “immature” and “disrespectful.”
On the same day that Democratic Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell was sworn into office as the first Muslim member of the Pennsylvania House, Republican Rep. Stephanie Borowicz gave an ill-received tribute to Jesus, Israel and President Trump, the Washington Post reported.
Democratic Representative Kevin J. Boyle tweeted a video of Borowicz’s prayer, writing, “I walked off the House floor in protest during today’s prayer led by a GOP member. This fire and brimstone Evangelical prayer was before the swearing in of the PA House’s first ever Muslim woman. It epitomizes religious intolerance.”
I walked off the House floor in protest during today’s prayer led by a GOP member. This fire and brimstone Evangelical prayer was before the swearing in of the PA House’s first ever Muslim woman. It epitomizes religious intolerance. Below is the video. https://t.co/pq34UmK2Nn
— Kevin J. Boyle (@RepKevinBoyle) March 25, 2019
In her prayer, Borowicz said, “…God forgive us. Jesus, we’ve lost sight of you. We’ve forgotten you, God and our country. And we’re asking you to forgive us, Jesus. Your promise and your word say that if my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek your face and turn from their wicked ways, that you’ll heal our land.”
She continued, “Jesus, you are our only hope. God, I pray for our leaders, Speaker Turzai, Leader Cutler, Governor Wolf, President Trump, Lord thank you that he stands beside Israel…we ask that we not be overcome by evil and overcome evil with good in this land once again. I claim all these things in the powerful, mighty name of Jesus…”
When Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai nudged Borowicz with his elbow, she concluded the prayer.
I came to the @PaHouse to make friends on both sides of the aisle because we need to work together for EVERYONE across the commonwealth. After hearing the prayer given the day I took the oath of office, it’s clear that my presence is needed now more than ever #PeopleFirst pic.twitter.com/dK4I7gO9aY
— Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell (@RepMovita) March 27, 2019
Pennsylvania House sessions have always started with a prayer, however, Boyle told Yahoo Lifestyle, this one felt different. “Many — myself included — saw a connection between the language of that prayer and the historical nature of the state’s first Muslim House representative.”
“From the get-go, it struck me political,” he added. “People were looking around, particularly on the Democratic side, waiting for Speaker Turzai to intervene.”
Boyle told Yahoo Lifestyle that after speaking, Borowicz “walked off immediately” and other conservative House members followed. “Several were not present for the swearing-in ceremony.”
Fellow House members spoke out. Democratic Rep. Jordan Harris tweeted, “Prayer should never be weaponized, especially on a celebratory day for @RepMovita as she’s sworn in as the 1st Muslim woman to serve in the #PAHouse. This prayer was deeply disrespectful and meant to intimidate Movita & her family. We won’t stay silent on what matters.”
There are plenty of things for us to fight about in Harrisburg but prayer shouldn’t be one of them. I intentionally came to the House to make friends on both sides of the aisle because we need to work together for EVERYONE across the commonwealth. After hearing the prayer given the day I took the oath of office, it’s clear that my presence is needed now more than ever.
Posted by Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell on Wednesday, March 27, 2019
According to the Washington Post, Democratic Representative Frank Dermody said, “Never have we started out with a prayer that divides us. Prayer should never divide us. It should bring us together.”
Rep. Movita told reporters, “That prayer, in the beginning, is meant to be inclusive, and to bring everyone together. We as Republicans and Democrats can find many, many things to fight about. Prayer should not be one of them. I thought that was political but I also thought it was a political statement when she talked about…how if people are not Christian, that they’re condemned.”
“So to use my religion against me and then to storm off the floor, number one was very, very immature and number two, very very disrespectful,” she said. Movita did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.
Borowicz did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s interview request; she told The PLS Reporter, “That’s how I pray every day.” When asked about pressure to apologize, and Borowicz said, “Oh no, I don’t apologize ever for praying.”
Rep. Borowicz on her controversial prayer: "That's how I pray everyday." When asked to respond to Dems calling for an apology she says "Oh no, I don't apologize ever for praying"
— Andrew Bahl (@AndrewBahl) March 25, 2019
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