The Sin of Rep. Borowicz?
On Monday, March 25, 2019, Rep. Stephanie Borowicz prayed at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. It was not the most eloquent prayer I have ever heard. In fact, Rep. Borowicz sounded a bit nervous and even looked it. Sometimes she had her eyes opened and sometimes closed. She used Jesus as a punctuation mark throughout her prayer and at one point she perhaps used Jesus instead of a personal pronoun. These things are understandable. Rep. Borowicz is not clergy. This is not the sort of thing she does frequently in public. For all of these things we must give her a pass. It is the descent thing to do.
That said, what about the way in which she spoke of Jesus? She identified him as King of kings, Lord of lords, the one who was crucified, resurrected and is to return, the one who is our only hope and the one before whom every knee will bow and every tongue confess his lordship. What about that? Can we give her a pass regarding these statements? Some would contend that we cannot. But why can we not? Is it because she prayed in the name of Jesus? Is it because she identified him as God? Or perhaps it’s because she said that on the Day of Judgment every knee would bow before him. Or perhaps it is because she encouraged us to seek him.
Before we cast aspersions on Rep. Borowicz perhaps we ought to remember that on November 13, 2014 Imam Hamad Ahmad Chebli prayed before the House of Representatives in the name of Allah and with a prayer similar to that of Borowicz. He began with a benediction saying, “The Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon you” and then following those comments he named Allah as the most gracious and most merciful. He invoked, “Praise be to Allah” and called him the master of the Day of Judgment, saying “Thee do we worship and thine do we seek.”
Clearly, there is a similarity between the comments. One petitions in the name of Jesus and the other in the name of Allah. Now, we are thinking people. But some in our world are not and so they will try and wash the differences away by claiming that there is one God with many names. However, if such a God exists he is surely capricious and desires the ill will rather than the good of men. No, we are adults and adults know that people have differences. There is a difference between these two prayers. And in the United States, under the First Amendment to the Constitution, these differences are permitted to be exercised. However, these two incidents give rise to a troubling reality. One name (Allah) is acceptable in public and the other (Jesus) is not. How can it be that the First Amendment to the Constitution only ensures Imam Chebli the right to exercise his religious faith and yet does not ensure the same right to Rep. Borowicz? Let me put it another way, how can Imam Chebli get a pass and not Rep. Borowicz?
Before I answer, let me deal with a red herring. Some will say that Borowicz spoke positively of Israel and that is her political sin. How could she speak this way in the presence of a Muslim? After all, many Muslims believe that the Jews are their worst enemy. Others will and have countered this assertion, contending that Muslims cannot be anti-Semitic because they too are Semitic. However, this is silly and disingenuous. So, perhaps this is Rep. Borowicz’s sin. She has sided with the enemy of Islam. But can that really be why she is taking so much harassment these days? I, for one, think that the answer to that question is far simpler than Muslim and Israeli relations. I, for one, believe that is the reddest of herrings. So, what is problem?
The problem is the name of Jesus. Our Lord said if they hated him then they will hate you. Rep. Borowicz has aligned herself with the Lord and she is hated as a result. She is called a bigot, a racist and Islamaphobic. Well, if I had Rep. Borowicz in front of me I would say one thing. I would read Matthew 5:11-12 to her. It says, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who where were before you.” And I would say, “Jesus has said do not look for a pass from the world. Nor do you need one since you are blessed with His approval.”
Jeffrey A. Stivason is the pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gibsonia, PA. He also holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. Jeff is the author of From Inscrutability to Concursus (P&R), he has contributed to The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia (Eerdmans) and is the Executive Editor for Place for Truth.