City Council wades into controversy over prayer offered when first Pennsylvania Muslim legislator sworn in

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia City Council will consider a resolution condemning a state legislator for a controversial prayer she said when Pennsylvania’s first Muslim state representative was sworn in. 

Councilman Curtis Jones introduced the resolution accusing Clinton County Rep. Stephanie Borowicz of being inappropriate and Islamophobic on the day that Movita Johnson-Harrell took office after winning a special election to represent West Philadelphia. 

With Harrell’s invited guests — 32 of whom were Muslim — in attendance for the swearing in, Borowicz said a prayer invoking Jesus 13 times, saying he is “our only hope,” and asking his forgiveness because “we’ve lost sight of you, we’ve forgotten you, God, in our country.”  

Related: Johnson-Harrell breaks barriers as Pa.’s first Muslim woman state rep

Jones’ resolution says the prayer excluded not only Muslims, but all other non-Christian members of the audience. 

“We just can’t sit by and let people just deliberately make people feel uncomfortable and unwelcome,” Jones said. 

Borowicz has declined to apologize, but other legislators have come to Harrell’s side. The legislative black caucus says members were mortified and outraged. 

Council will vote on Jones’ resolution at its next session. 

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