CNN interviewed Pennsylvania’s first female Muslim lawmaker on Saturday in the wake of the controversial prayer which a Republican representative delivered shortly before she was sworn in replete with Christian references and the mention of Jerusalem and Israel.
On Monday, State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz delivered a prayer before Pennsylvania General Assembly invoking the name of Jesus 13 times, thanking G-d for US President Donald Trump’s support of Israel, and beseeching the peace of Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, a Muslim-American, was waiting to be sworn in surrounded by 55 family members and friends.
Borowicz’s prayer aroused widespread criticism but she remained unapologetic. She told a reporter, “This is how I pray every day” and “I don’t apologize ever for praying.”
Johnson-Harrel told CNN, “I felt very disrespected. It was intentional, it was deliberate and it was planned. 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.”
“Pennsylvania needs to make a clear divide between church and state by eliminating the prayer altogether,” Johnson-Harrel told CNN. “Alternatively, if there is going to be a prayer then everybody, including nonbelievers, need to be included.”
According to CNN, “nonbelievers” is a controversial topic for the state of Pennsylvania. Republican Speaker of the House Mike Turzai is currently being challenged in court for not allowing nonbelievers to deliver a message to the legislature in lieu of a prayer.
CNN also reported that 5,000 people commented on a Washington Post article about the incident, many calling for the separation of church and state.
CNN also interviewed Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (a Christian conservative policy organization) who asserted that “it’s not uncommon to have the name of Jesus invoked in a state legislature” and that it should be noted that “Johnson-Harrel herself said a Muslim prayer in the name of Allah.”
The following is the complete prayer.
Perkins said that Christians shouldn’t need to reign in their faith in any way and disagrees with the need for a division between church and state. “We are a nation of faith,” he said, and “we have a Judeo-Christian foundation.”
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