Republican Pennsylvania state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz invoked Jesus’ name 13 times in her opening prayer Monday, words spoken to open a ceremony where the first ever Muslim lawmaker was sworn in.
According to a Washington Post report, the prayer drew nudges, visible discomfort and at least one verbal reaction. Borowicz asked God’s forgiveness for losing sight of him and praised President Donald Trump for supporting Israel.
Borowicz’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Democratic Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, the newly sworn in Muslim congresswoman, told the Pennsylvania Capital-Star that it smacked of prejudice.
“It blatantly represented the Islamophobia that exists among some leaders — leaders that are supposed to represent the people,” she said. “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 Democratic whip, among others, issued a statement of support:
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! #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/V7vIepG2Da
— Jordan A. Harris (@RepHarris) March 26, 2019