Democrats, including a newly sworn-in Muslim lawmaker, reacted with outrage when a Pennsylvania state representative mentioned Jesus 13 times in an invocation and recited Scripture declaring “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow.”
In her prayer Monday before the state’s legislature, state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz thanked Jesus, “the King of Kings; the Lord of lords; the great I Am; the One who’s coming back again; the One who came, died and rose again on the third day,” PennLive.com reported.
Democratic state State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrel — who was sworn in during the session as the state’s first female Muslim lawmaker — was joined by her party’s state leadership in denouncing the prayer.
Democratic House Minority Whip Jordan Harris of Philadelphia accused Borowicz of weaponizing her religion to “intimidate, demean and degrade” Johnson-Harrell as she was installed in front of her family and friends.
“Let me be clear. I am a Christian. I spend my Sunday mornings in church worshiping and being thankful for all that I have,” Harris said in a statement. “But in no way does that mean I would flaunt my religion at those who worship differently than I do. There is no room in our Capitol building for actions such as this, and it’s incredibly disappointing that today’s opening prayer was so divisive.”
In her prayer, Borowicz also asked forgiveness on behalf of the nation for forgetting God and thanked God for President Trump’s support of Israel.
She ended by invoking the biblical text Philippians 2:10-11, “At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus, that you are Lord.”
“I knew I was going to receive some discrimination because of my religion,” Johnson-Harrell said, according to WHYY radio in Philadelphia. “Because I’m a hijabi woman. And I am the first … but I did not think it would come on the actual day of my swearing-in.”
Johnson-Harrell called the prayer “highly offensive to me, my guests, and other members of the House.”
“It blatantly represented the Islamophobia that exists among some leaders — leaders that are supposed to represent the people,” Johnson-Harrell said in a statement. “I came to the Capitol to help build bipartisanship and collaborations regardless of race or religion to enhance the quality of life for everyone in the Commonwealth.”
The Daily Caller noted an Islamic prayer called Takbir was recited before the legislature during Johnson-Harrell’s swearing-in.
The Islamic prayer ended, however, before its last line, which denounces the central Christian doctrine that Jesus is the Son of God.
House Minority Leader Frank Dermody condemned Borowicz’s prayer, PennLive.com reported.
“It was not meant to bring us together. It was not meant to inspire us. It was beneath the dignity of the House,” he said to the applause of members.
But the state’s legislature applauded Muslim Democratic Pennsylvania State Rep. Jason Dawkins’ invocation Tuesday in which he recited from the Quran.
‘Any manifestation of faith’ offensive?
Jihad Watch Director Robert Spencer commented that Borowicz’s prayer “may have been inappropriate in a setting in which not everyone present was Christian,” but it was not “Islamophobic” as many Democrats charged.
He said we’ve “seen many imams say prayers at various legislative bodies that are not non-sectarian, but manifestly Islamic and even condemning of Jews and Christians, while the non-Muslim lawmakers stand with oblivious heads bowed.”
Spencer said it seems that “any manifestation of faith other than Islam is sometimes seen as offensive to Muslims.”
The American Family Association of Pennsylvania issued a statement thanking Borowicz “for her bold stand and encourage her during these undeserved attacks.”
“Representative Borowicz did not attack anyone during her prayer and should not be accused of hate,” said Diane Gramley, the Christian non-profit’s president.
“Would these same dissenters also object to the use of Grace United Methodist Church, down the street from the capital, from being used as the temporary quarters of the state legislature as it was after the capital building burned down on February 2, 1897?” she asked. “Will these same dissenters now demand that all Scripture and all other references to God be removed from the current capital building? These references refer to the one true God and those who designed, built and dedicated the new capital building knew it.”
AFA of PA noted the Muslim lawmaker Dawkins read from the Quran, “a document that calls for the killing of infidels.”
“The Quran is filled with commands to Muslims to commit atrocities, barbaric murders and jihad against non-Muslims,” the group said. “The commands are permanent for all time. Perhaps some PA legislators and members of the administration need to take a refresher course in U.S. history.”