In Pennsylvania, a Christian was invited to open a legislative session in prayer. She prayed in the name of Jesus, and her prayer was deemed “offensive,” “divisive,” “bigoted,” “demeaning,” “degrading,” and “Islamophobic.” The next day a Muslim opened the session by praying to Allah, in Arabic, and quoting the Qur’an, yet there was no condemnation of that prayer. In addition, the Muslim prayer was met with applause in the room. Why is praying in the name of Jesus “Islamophobic,” but praying in the name of Allah is not “Christo-phobic”? If it’s an issue of religious expression, both should be either accepted or rejected. But since both were by invitation, acceptance is the default response.

Freedom of religious expression is not bigotry. In contrast, bigotry is intolerance—not allowing other free religious expression. The only bigotry happening here is those who were present who consider it legitimate to shut down the free expression of one religion (Christianity) while at the same time considering it applause-worthy to approve of another religious expression (Islam).

Since the lawmakers invited a Christian to pray, they should assume they will get a Christian prayer, just as when they invite a Muslim to pray they can expect an Islamic prayer.

As an American who follows the Constitution, I cannot have an issue with a Muslim opening a governmental legislative session with prayer as long as any other religious group is also allowed to contribute to such opening prayer at other sessions. We are a pluralistic society who believe that the government cannot establish one religion over another and who also believe in the freedom of religion. What is clearly bigoted and offensive is to rebuke one while applauding another.

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