PA Rep Delivers Jesus-Filled Invocation During the First Muslim-American Swearing-in Ceremony
- By C Barnett --
- 27 Mar 2019 --
Critics say the speech ruined a historical moment.
For Representative Movita Johnson-Harrell, March 25 should have been a joyous day.[/tweetit] It was the day all her efforts to make a change came closer to fruition when she became the first Muslim-American to be sworn in to office in Pennsylvania.
PA Rep Delivers Jesus-Filled Invocation During the First Muslim-American Swearing-in Ceremony[/tweetthis]
The fact that Johnson-Harell became a lawmaker is impressive and painful at the same time. After her son died in 2013 due to gun violence, she set up the CHARLES Foundation. It is a non-profit to push for increased gun violence prevention and to empower communities. She also recently served as the supervisor in charge of Victim Services in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. The indomitable Larry Krasner was her boss. Being elected to the government thus means a lot to her. She even brought her loved ones to Harrisburg. Indeed, among her 55 guests, 32 were Muslim-Americans.
The problem is that the subsequent course of events at the ceremony went entirely off-key for what should have been done. The Republican-controlled chamber selected a fellow GOP-freshman State Representative Stephanie Borowicz to deliver the expected opening legislative prayer. It was done as per tradition and anyone who sat through the prayer could only describe it as offensive. With Johnson-Harell’s family members and friends among the audience, Borowicz mentioned Jesus Christ 13 times in her 90 second speech. The Republican did not just say the glory of Jesus; she longed for a time when every person in the world would be a Christian.
What Borowicz did was opposite to what she should have done. An invocation should be inclusive, uplifting, and inspiring. There is even a United States Supreme Court ruling on this issue. In the Greece v. Galloway case, the court warned that sectarian language should not be permitted during invocations, and prayers which denigrate others or try to proselytize are against the United States Constitution. To put it simply, if the Pennsylvania house permitted what Borowicz said on Monday on a regular basis, the state house would be violating U.S. laws. Borowicz’s invocation was neither universal nor uplifting. It can be regarded as a sermon usually given inside church premises on Sundays except she delivered it in the House. The speech was so toxic that it took the attention away from the historic event of a Muslim female representative being sworn in. Johnson-Harell was shocked and offended.
I came to the @PaHouse to make friends on both sides of the aisle because we need to work together for EVERYONE across the commonwealth. After hearing the prayer given the day I took the oath of office, it’s clear that my presence is needed now more than ever #PeopleFirst pic.twitter.com/dK4I7gO9aY
— Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell (@RepMovita) March 27, 2019