Republican Representative Stephanie Borowicz of the Pennsylvania state legislature addressed her colleagues from the podium shortly before the swearing in of Democratic Representative Movita Johnson-Harrell. Borowicz was to deliver the invocation.
Johnson-Harrell is Muslim and was to become the first Muslim woman in the Pennsylvania House once sworn in.
Why does her religion matter?
Borowicz stated before the state legislature:
"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."
Borowicz ended her address with:
"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."
Jesus was uttered 13 times, Lord and God six times each during her less than 1.5 minute remarks before the legislature. She also mentioned President Donald Trump and Israel.
Observers stated other House members appeared visibly uncomfortable as Borowicz spoke. At least one person shouted an objection, prompting her fellow Republican, House Speaker Mike Turzai, to prompt her to wrap up her remarks.
Watch Borowicz's invocation here:
State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz prayed for Trump and insisted everyone bow to Jesus just before Pennsylvania’s first… https://t.co/PONxRYomoZ— NowThis (@NowThis)1553692680.0
If you missed it, first-year Rep Stephanie Borowicz gave an opening prayer for this morning’s session that a number… https://t.co/3n131Vq26a— Katie Meyer (@Katie Meyer)1553543176.0
In response, 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."
After the invocation, the Republican members of the House walked out, skipping the swearing in ceremony.
After the prayer, the all-white @PAHouseGOP caucus left the chamber and skipped the swearing in of Movita Johnson-H… https://t.co/VsyvvpPeaW— Sean Kitchen 🍞 🌹 (@Sean Kitchen 🍞 🌹)1553540957.0
Representative Jordan Harris, the Democratic Minority Whip, condemned his colleague's remarks as an attempt to "weaponize religion." Harris called Borowicz's address before the legislature "deeply disrespectful" and "meant to intimidate" Johnson-Harrell and her family.
Watch his response here:
Prayer should never be weaponized, especially on a celebratory day for @RepMovita as she’s sworn in as the 1st Musl… https://t.co/6z3fBLF5Oh— Jordan A. Harris (@Jordan A. Harris)1553559313.0
People agreed fully with Harris' take on the incident.
🚨🚨🚨WOWZA🚨🚨🚨 You think @PAHouseGOP would someone less offensive to say opening prayer on the day that Pennsylvania'… https://t.co/xgS73bSxk5— Sean Kitchen 🍞 🌹 (@Sean Kitchen 🍞 🌹)1553538740.0
The best thing about today was that right after Rep Borowicz was ranting about Jesus, she voted to take cash assist… https://t.co/LI45ziwcnL— Sean Kitchen 🍞 🌹 (@Sean Kitchen 🍞 🌹)1553546655.0
Once again, @RepMetcalfe showed his true colors; walking out on the Commonwealth’s first Muslim American’s swearing… https://t.co/yOo9vB6SB4— Daniel Smith, Jr (@Daniel Smith, Jr)1553560556.0
The words were spoken by Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, but the underlying Islamophobia is common within the Republican e… https://t.co/BrjR0g1BLz— PA Democratic Party (@PA Democratic Party)1553607468.0
At a minimum, most people found the remarks insensitive.
While some concurred that the choice of words was deliberately Islamaphobic as well as targeting Jews, atheists and other non-Christians.
Twitter user @MtthewRubiin gave an impassioned plea for solidarity and expressed disgust over GOP behavior.
10 days after mass murder of Muslims praying in Christchurch, #PAHouse's 1st ever Muslim woman was sworn in But… https://t.co/8uH4mbUiyg— 𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷 (@𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷)1553549159.0
This grossly racist and Islamophobic act is disgusting and cruel. https://t.co/lLjLWQUXxW— 𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷 (@𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷)1553549159.0
My state's majority in the House of Representatives just prayed to Jesus to thank Trump for his support for Israel… https://t.co/D6YIbIaFx5— 𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷 (@𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷)1553549159.0
This is not just 10 days after the mass murder at mosques in Christchurch. It is also 149 days after the mass murde… https://t.co/RujkEgJEj6— 𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷 (@𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷)1553549159.0
I am not fooled. I know their concern for Israel is not because they believe they are standing up for me or the Jew… https://t.co/yWE5riyu0h— 𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷 (@𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷)1553549160.0
I have not forgotten the GOP, Trump, and Turzai's utter failure to condemn white supremacy and white nationalism, o… https://t.co/zqdm8f5jvu— 𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷 (@𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷)1553549160.0
I am Jewish, and I am disgusted by this prayer. I am disgusted by this act of hatred. I am disgusted that the legis… https://t.co/MSlgbhJZcp— 𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷 (@𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷)1553549160.0
I am disgusted by any and every Jewish institution that remains silent about this. I am disgusted.— 𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷 (@𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷)1553549161.0
The only choice for the Jewish community is to seek our safety through solidarity with all oppressed peoples.— 𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷 (@𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷)1553549161.0
We will not find our safety through silence in the face of bigotry. We will not find our safety through prayers th… https://t.co/Zb9cx8qN1a— 𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷 (@𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷)1553549161.0
Love & solidarity to @movitajh. ❤️— 𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷 (@𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷)1553549161.0
Reading this again, and this felt a little weird,. I'm 💯% furious and disgusted about the bigotry and disrespect… https://t.co/tMUcsgjLEn— 𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷 (@𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 𝓡𝓾𝓫𝓲𝓷)1553554485.0
Pennsylvania suffered an anti-Semitic hate crime in October when a gunman murdered 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue. The shooter identified as a White nationalist.