HARRISBURG, Pa. — A pastor’s wife and lawmaker in Pennsylvania has introduced a resolution calling for “A State Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer” in the midst of the novel coronavirus crisis. Two Democratic legislators have expressed opposition, calling her proposal “the stupidest resolution I’ve ever seen” and “forcing her belief system on others.”
Those who have criticized Rep. Stephanie Borowicz’s resolution have done so largely because of its suggestion that God allows calamity to come upon the world because of sinful behavior — words that mirror a proclamation written by an Iowa senator in 1863 and signed by then-President Abraham Lincoln.
“During the pandemic of 2020 and the ensuing uncertainty and anxiety of this time, Pennsylvanians may be comforted by turning to a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer as well as the wise words [signed by] our great President Abraham Lincoln,” she wrote, then proceeded to quote from the historic resolution.
“[I]t is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history: that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”
Borowicz personalized the text at times to fit into current circumstances.
“Insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisement in this world … May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of the pandemic, which now desolates this Commonwealth may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people.”
“We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown … but we have forgotten God and we have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and … we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own,” the 1863 resolution reads.
“Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us,” it laments. “It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
The resolution seeks to make March 30 the “State Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer,” just as the proclamation signed by then-President Lincoln made March 30, 1863 a day of prayer and repentance as well.
Read the resolution in full here.
But some Democratic lawmakers in the Commonwealth object to the proposal, such as Rep. Kevin Boyle of Philadelphia, who remarked on Twitter on Monday, “I do believe this is the stupidest resolution I’ve ever seen a politician introduce.”
Rep. Dan Frankel of Squirrel Hill and Chair for the House Health Committee also opposed the resolution in a statement to PennLive.
“It’s painfully ironic that in her resolution Rep. Borowicz references Lincoln, who sought to unite a nation divided by the moral virus of slavery. It’s ironic because right now the Pennsylvania government is working to unify to combat this epidemic of the coronavirus. Borowicz, using archaic language specific to her personal faith tradition, simply divides us by forcing her belief system on others,” he remarked.
“As a public servant, I believe that is my role, not directing the personal faith practices of my fellow Pennsylvanians,” Frankel said.
However, this is not the first time that lawmakers have opposed Borowicz’s efforts to glorify God in the legislature.
Last year, Boyle, a Roman Catholic, introduced a resolution seeking to chastise Borowicz for declaring Jesus as the nation’s “only hope,” and that at His name “every knee will bow” — among other numerous references — during a prayer that was delivered shortly before a Muslim legislator was sworn into office. A Muslim leader also presented a prayer that day, which drew applause, while some conversely had walked out on Borowicz.
“A prayer that cites a particular religious belief as ‘our only hope,’ that ‘we’ve lost sight of you, we’ve forgotten you, God, in our country, and we’re asking you to forgive us,’ and that ‘every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess’ is unnecessarily divisive and polarizing,” Boyle’s resolution asserted.
Gov. Tom Wolf, who identifies as a Methodist, similarly said that he was “horrified” by Borowicz’s prayer.
“I grew up in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn on the basis of freedom of conscience. I have a strong spiritual sense. This is not a reflection of the religion I grew up in,” he stated, according to USA Today.
However, Borowicz said that she prays no differently any other time, including when she is praying with family and friends. She is also the founder of Make a Stand USA, an organization that seeks to “to hold prayer rallies in each state, bringing the country back to God.”
“I had no idea that that would cause controversy. It wasn’t directed at anyone,” she told the American Pastors Network.
The organization defended Borowicz in noting that Penn founded the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on the Word of God, and that even the preamble to the Pennsylvania Constitution refers to “Almighty God.”
As previously reported, Penn was a street preacher, and was once put on trial for causing a “tumultuous assembly” with his preaching. He was also the author of such books as “No Cross, No Crown: A Discourse Showing the Nature and Discipline of the Holy Cross of Christ.”
“Isaiah 30:9 says that spiritually rebellious people ‘will not hear the law of the Lord.’ So, we should not be surprised when some people object to the Word of God when it is read, spoken or used in our prayers,” said Executive Director Gary Dull.
“When a person prays a ‘Christian prayer’ to the Christian God of the Bible, it only stands to reason that Christian and biblical terms will be used in that prayer,” he added. “That may and will offend some people, but that does not mean that such a freedom should be taken away.”
Borowicz’s husband, Jason Borowicz, serves as an associate pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Jersey Shore.