‘Islamophobia’: Critics decry Christian prayer at swearing-in of Muslim lawmaker


Posted on: March 27th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

(Pennsylvania State House) Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell is sworn-in to office at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, March 25, 2019. Johnson-Harrell became the first Muslim woman to be elected to the state House. (HARRISBURG, Pa.) — The swearing-in ceremony for Pennsylvania’s first Muslim representative would seem like a good time to promote inclusion and diversity.

But, after a Christian prayer was recited at the beginning of the ceremony, some are calling historical moment quite the opposite.

Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell was sworn in to the state House of Representatives on Monday, but before that happened, Rep. Stephanie Borowicz gave a prayer that some people are saying was inappropriate.

“Jesus, I thank you for this privilege, Lord, of letting me pray, God, that I, Jesus, am your ambassador here today, representing you, the king of king, the lord of lords,” Borowicz said.

Later in the prayer, she said: “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.”

In all, Borowicz invoked “Jesus” 13 times, “God” six times and “Lord” four times.

She also praised a number of local leaders, as well as President Trump, who she said “stands behind Israel unequivocally.”

At the end of the prayer, that was videotaped by the state’s House Democratic Caucus, the politician standing behind Borowicz is seen allegedly touching her on the elbow, as if to prompt her to wrap up the prayer.

Borowicz did not immediately return ABC News’ requests for comment. Her government website notes that she was elected in 2018, describes her as a stay-at-home mom, graduated from a Christian high school and minored in The Bible when she attended a Christian university.

Johnson-Harrell, whose swearing-in was a main feature of Monday’s session, said that the prayer sent a message. In a statement to local newspaper The Pennsylvania Capital-Star, Johnson-Harrell said, “It blatantly represented the Islamophobia that exists among some leaders — leaders that are supposed to represent the people.”

“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,” she said in the texted statement.

The Washington Post reported that Johnson-Harrell told news outlets that she brought 55 guests with her to the swearing-in, 32 of whom were Muslim.

She’s not the only one who is upset. Rep. Jordan A. Harris, the House Democratic Whip, tweeted out a video with his response, saying that the newly-sworn-in representative “deserved more. We deserved more. The chamber deserved more. This is not a place where you should weaponize religion or try to use it to intimidate anyone.”

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