Divisive opening prayer unbecoming of an elected official

HARRISBURG, March 25 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., House Democratic whip, released the following statement following a rambling, overly divisive opening prayer delivered in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives today:

“Today, we saw religion weaponized in the House chamber in what could be considered a gross attempt to intimidate, demean and degrade a Muslim state representative in the presence of her family, friends and guests. On a day that should be celebrated across Pennsylvania as we see the first Muslim woman sworn into office, we instead started off with a rambling, at times incoherent prayer that consisted of weaponizing the name of Jesus while dipping into partisan rhetoric on President Donald Trump.

“Let me be clear. I am a Christian. I spend my Sunday mornings in church worshipping and being thankful for all that I have. But in no way does that mean I would flaunt my religion at those who worship differently than I do. There is no room in our Capitol building for actions such as this, and it’s incredibly disappointing that today’s opening prayer was so divisive.

“I strongly encourage all members of the House to keep an open mind, be respectful and embrace those with differing beliefs than those that we ourselves have. That’s the least we can do to understand our fellow legislators and find common ground that will allow us to work in a bipartisan fashion.

“What we do not need is to see prayer and religion twisted to intimidate, discourage or subtly degrade any Pennsylvanian, especially one sent by her constituents to represent them in Harrisburg. I’m confident this issue will be dealt with appropriately and our opening prayer will be returned to an inclusive invocation allowing us to respect each other and our differing beliefs.”