Movita Johnson-Harrell, the first Muslim woman to serve in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, accused a Republican legislator of Islamophobia after she mentioned Jesus at least 13 times in an opening prayer before Johnson-Harrell’s swearing-in, The Washington Post reported.
“God forgive us — Jesus — we’ve lost sight of you, we’ve forgotten you, God, in our country, and we’re asking you to forgive us, Jesus,” state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R) said during her remarks Monday. She also prayed for President Donald Trump and thanked the president for “unequivocally” supporting Israel.
“I claim all these things in the powerful, mighty name of Jesus, the one who, at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess, Jesus, that you are Lord, in Jesus’ name,” Borowicz said.
Johnson-Harrell, a Democrat whose installation Monday was attended by family and friends, 32 of whom were Muslim, said in the news segment above that Borowicz’s invocation was a “political statement masked as a prayer.”
“I thought that it was laced with Islamophobia and xenophobia,” Johnson-Harrell said.
“It blatantly represented the Islamophobia that exists among some leaders — leaders that are supposed to represent the people,” she told the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. “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.”
Borowicz gave a brief explanation: “That’s how I pray every day… I don’t apologize ever for praying,” she said, according to The PLS Reporter’s Andrew Bahl.
Other lawmakers condemned the prayer. House Minority Whip Jordan Harris (D) said Borowicz had weaponized her beliefs, creating divisiveness.
The Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for the state House to censure Borowicz.