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Muslim lawmaker, Democrats decry opening prayer about Jesus as divisive

Democrat Movita Johnson-Harrell of Philadelphia is the first female Muslim member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Image: Pennsylvania Capitol Building
A flag flies near the exterior of the Pennsylvania Capitol building on Oct. 7, 2015 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.Matt Rourke / AP file

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The first female Muslim member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives says she was offended by a colleague's decision to open session with a prayer that "at the name of Jesus every knee will bow."

Democratic Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell of Philadelphia said Tuesday she felt the remarks by Rep. Stephanie Borowicz shortly before Johnson-Harrell took the oath of office used her religion against her.

Movita Johnson-Harrell, Democratic member-elect for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.NBC Philadelphia

Borowicz is a Republican and associate pastor's wife. She also thanked President Donald Trump during the Monday invocation for standing behind Israel. She later defended her remarks, saying, "I pray every day. I prayed."

Democratic leaders called the remarks divisive.

Johnson-Harrell won a special election this month. Her swearing-in drew 55 guests, a majority of them Muslim.

On Tuesday, a Muslim lawmaker opened the session by reading from the Quran.