Republican Rep. Stephanie Borowicz walked over to the podium of the Pennsylvania legislature and delivered a bold proclamation that Jesus is Lord, while Democratic Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, a Muslim-American, waited to be sworn in to the state’s General Assembly.
Borowicz proclaimed the name of Jesus 13 times in her opening prayer at the swearing-in ceremony of Pennsylvania’s first female Muslim lawmaker. Surrounded by 55 family members and friends, the newly-elected Muslim representative sat stunned as she listened to the one-and-a-half-minute prayer, which including thanking God for US President Donald Trump's support of Israel.
Borowicz's unabashedly-Christian prayer stirred widespread criticism. Over 5,000 people commented on a Washington Post article about the incident, many calling for a separation of state and religion. Borowicz said in a statement that she has every right to pray this way during a government assembly, even for a Muslim lawmaker. “This is how I pray every day and I don't apologize ever for praying,” she told a reporter.
Freshman Representative Borowicz’s heartfelt prayer included a cry to acknowledge that the US has forgotten Jesus and needed to repent and ask for forgiveness. “Jesus, you are our only hope,” she said, before thanking President Trump and the president’s unequivocal support for Israel. “At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess Jesus, that you are Lord,” she prayed.
The Christian lawmaker would have continued the extended prayer, but was eventually forced to stop when House Speaker Mike Turzai reached over to cut her off.
Representative Johnson-Harrel told CNN, “I felt very disrespected. It was intentional, it was deliberate, and it was planned.” Johnson-Harrel then went on to blame President Trump for the incident. “I knew I would draw attention and would draw some criticism, especially with the pandering of white supremacy by white nationalism coming out of the White House. I knew I would have to engage in these conversations, but I just didn't know that members of the House would intentionally intend to harm me and my family on the day I'm sworn in,” she said in a statement.
Borowicz’s husband is an associate pastor at a Christian church in the local district his wife represents and insisted that she did nothing wrong.