Skip to comments.2 lawmakers spurn Muslim's prayer - Republicans step off House floor
Posted on 03/04/2003 2:34:57 AM PST by sarcasm
OLYMPIA -- He prayed for the politicians, the state's prosperity and peace for all ethnicities and religions.
But when a Muslim cleric offered the opening prayer before the state House of Representatives yesterday, at least two lawmakers stepped off the chamber floor.
"It's an issue of patriotism," Rep. Lois McMahan, a conservative Republican from Gig Harbor, said of her decision to stand in the back of the room.
"The Islamic religion is so . . . part and parcel with the attack on America. I just didn't want to be there, be a part of that," she said. "Even though the mainstream Islamic religion doesn't profess to hate America, nonetheless it spawns the groups that hate America."
Rep. Cary Condotta, a Republican from East Wenatchee, also left the floor. He said the timing was not a coincidence, but he declined to comment further on why he left, except to say he was talking to another lawmaker and "let's just say I wasn't particularly interested."
A prayer is given at the beginning of each Senate and House session, and attendance is hit or miss, particularly on Mondays.
The interfaith organization Associated Ministries of Thurston County schedules the daily chaplain, said Cynthia Zehnder, clerk of the 98-member chamber. They have selected clerics representing a broad range of faiths, she said.
Imam Mohamad Joban, of the Islamic Center of Olympia, presented yesterday's brief opening prayer.
In part, he said: "We open this session of House of Representatives in the name of Allah the one God Abraham, God of Moses, God of Jesus, and God of Mohammed, peace be upon them all. . . . We ask Allah or God to bless the state of Washington so it may continue to prosper and become a symbol of peace and tranquility for people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. We pray that Allah may guide this House in making good decisions for the people of Washington.
"At this time, we also pray that America may succeed in the war against terrorism. We pray to God that the war may end with world peace and tranquility."
Joban said the walkout was not hurtful, but ignorant.
"They're unable to distinguish between Islam as religion and way of life, and bad Muslims," said Joban, who has also given the opening prayer to the Senate. "They are easily able to distinguish between Christianity and bad Christians.
"They need to understand that like (President) Bush said . . . Islam is a peaceful religion."
Kathy Erlandson, director of Associated Ministries of Thurston County, found the small walkout disappointing, but not surprising.
"It makes me embarrassed to know that some of our legislators can't even treat someone with that common respect," she said. "He's an American citizen and he's praying for their work, then how can it be an act of patriotism to walk away?"
McMahan said she does not oppose having a Muslim cleric deliver the prayer.
Her departure was not a protest, but a personal decision not to participate because "the religion is the focal point of the hate-America sentiment in the world."
"My god is not Mohammed," McMahan added.
Joban said that if he were invited to give the opening prayer, he would do it again.
"Even if half of them leave it's OK for me," Joban said. "As a Muslim we have to respect what people believe and . . . we have to forgive something because of ignorance.
"The Holy Quran says that (one should) always respond to bad action with good and those who used to be enemies become friends."
Nor allah. (lower case intentional)
Every member of the legislature should have walked out.
Send 'em an e-mail or call and say "Thanks!"
Lois McMahan, Phone: (360) 786-7802, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cary Condotta, Phone: (360) 786-7954, e-mail: email@example.com
"It makes me embarrassed to know that some of our legislators can't even treat someone with that common respect,"
I agree with this legislator. I just wish they would remember this when this issue is opening prayers at schools and at basketball games.
A little quiet respect and tolerance is all that's asked in both situations.
Ping your ping lists!
It's not "and," it's "or," because we don't worship the same "god." Come on, buddy, which is it? A Freudian slip on the cleric's part, since he sincerely believes, or wants us to believe that the two are the same, though they are not. I just find it interesting that he felt the need to insert the arabic word "Allah" in an otherwise English prayer when Muslims have been trying all along to assert that the English "God" is the same as the Arabic word "Allah." Why not be consistent and use the word Allah exclusively in Arabic Muslim prayers, or use the word "god" exclusively in English Muslim prayers?
There are no circumstances where I would use the term "Allah" in prayer, and as far as I know I've never heard a Muslim use the term "Yahweh," or even "Father," so common in Christianity.
Why didn't he say this instead:
"We open this session of House of Representatives in the name of God the one God Abraham, God of Moses, God of Jesus, and God of Mohammed, peace be upon them all. . . . We ask God to bless the state of Washington so it may continue to prosper and become a symbol of peace and tranquility for people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. We pray that God may guide this House in making good decisions for the people of Washington. "
Well, he didn't say that because it wouldn't push along the agenda.
Would that be the same Holy Quran which says 'kill them where they are found?'
Now that's a statement sure to promote understanding between religions.
sheesh - he would have had a canary if a Christian had said that about him!
I would not have walked out, nor would I have acknowledged the prayer by bowing my head. I would have stood quietly until it was over, and then continued on with business.
I find your actions in response to the Muslim clerics prayer to be disgusting, and I think you ought to resign for the sake of the party and your constituents.Thanks for posting these email addresses. I hope more FReepers will register their appreciation for the Constitution and tell these idiots what's what.
No one is asking you to adopt the precepts of Islam, but you ought to show the common decency that is incumbent upon those who have sworn to uphold the Constitution.
In the Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, no other religion than Islam is officially sanctioned or permitted. A public prayer by a Christian would not be tolerated. All you are saying is, you want for US to be the opposite face of that same coin.
We are far, far superior to such benighted countries as those. Or at least, we ought to be except for a handful of disgraceful bigots like yourselves. I am so ashamed.
Please resign for the good of the party.
That's because you have a shred of common decency. Too bad that couldn't be said of these nitwits.