Pennsylvania state representative Stephanie Borowicz (R) recently delivered an invocation that has been called Islamophobic — particularly since it was delivered the day Pennsylvania’s first Muslim female lawmaker was sworn in.
On Monday, Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell (D) was sworn in, after winning a special election in a Pennsylvania House district to replace a legislator convicted on bribery charges. Rep. Borowicz, who was elected to represent a rural Pennsylvania district in November, delivered the opening invocation that day. According to USA Today, she spoke for nearly two minutes and said the words “Jesus,” Lord,” and “God” roughly two dozen times. She also thanked President Trump for his support of Israel, and begged for Jesus’ forgiveness on multiple occasions, saying “we’ve lost sight of you” and “we’ve forgotten you, God, in our country.”
At one point, even House Speaker Mike Turzai, a fellow Republican, grabbed Borowicz’s elbow after a lawmaker openly objected to one part of her prayer in which she quoted scripture saying, “at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, Jesus, that you, our lord” before she quickly ended with, “in Jesus name, amen.”
Rep. Movita-Harrell is calling for Borowicz to be censured for her invocation, not only for promoting “division” as opposed to inclusion, but for violating House rules on invocations not making political statements.
“It was directly a political statement, and I think we need to be very, very clear that everybody in this House matters, whether they’re Christian, Muslim or Jew, and that we cannot use these issues to tear each other down,” Johnson-Harrell said, adding that Borowicz was using Jesus “as a weapon.”
“And not only that, it was made during my swearing in,” she added.
Rep. Summer Lee (D), a member of Democratic Socialists of America, called Rep. Borowicz “the most inappropriate, racist, Islamophobe” and placed blame for the invocation at the feet of Speaker Turzai.
“Most inappropriate thing ive witnessed in my 4 months [in the Pennsylvania House],” Lee tweeted.
Today we're swearing in the 1st Black Muslim woman to the PA General Assembly. To honor the occasion @RepTurzai invites the most inappropriate, racist, islamophobe to ramble a "prayer" thanking Trump, Jesus, and Israel. Most inappropriate thing ive witnessed in my 4 months
— Summer Lee (@SummerForPA) March 25, 2019
Despite calls from Democratic lawmakers to apologize, Borowicz refused, saying she won’t “apologize ever for praying,” and that she prays like that to herself every day.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.