Stephanie Borowicz

Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, R-Clinton, delivers a prayer on the floor of the state House of Representatives on March 25, 2019. — Screenshot

It’s been a while since we’ve had occasion to write about freshman state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, the Clinton County Culture Warrior whose reputation seems to rests solely on introducing the most polarizing legislation that she can.

From efforts to help counties establish most-likely unconstitutional “Second Amendment Sanctuaries,” and a “heartbeat” abortion ban bill to a bit of gratuitous Islamophobia, the Republican lawmaker has made no shortage of headlines in her brief time under the Capitol dome.

Well, she’s back. And her latest effort attempts a triple-Metcalfe with a half-turn.

On Monday, Borowicz dropped a non-binding resolution that would, if approved, declare March 30 “a state day of humiliation, fasting and prayer in Pennsylvania,” because, she says, the COVID-19 epidemic that’s claimed the lives of thousands worldwide and six right here in Pennsylvania, “may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins.”

The resolution is modeled on a similar proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln, issued in the depths of the Civil War, where he declared March 30, 1863 a national day of humiliation, fasting and prayer. The language of Borowicz’s resolution borrows nearly word-for-word from the nation’s 16th chief executive.

For instance, from Lincoln:

“Whereas, it 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, yet 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.”

From the Borowicz resolution:

“Whereas, 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’s resolution calls for “the House of Representatives [to] request that all Pennsylvanians abstain on that [March 30] day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.”

It’s Lincoln. word-for-word, who asked that: “all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.”

Borowicz has never made any secret about the depth of her faith. Last year, she doubled-down on it during an interview with a Christian radio host in the midst of that Islamophobia controversy.

I’ll take her at her word on her authenticity of her faith, though it appears that Borowicz has more often wielded it as a weapon to divide instead of using it to bring people together — which is how I’ve always read the message in the Gospels.

And a clever as the nod to history is, it’s still worth noting that the country is a vastly different place than it was in Lincoln’s day — a reality hammered home in a 2019 Pew poll that found more and more Americans disenchanted with organized religion.

Prayer undoubtedly provides solace for many during this time of trial.

But I’d also point out that the diverse residents of this commonwealth of nearly 13 million souls, who worship in all manner of ways, don’t need the state stepping in to dictate whether, where, or when they engage in acts of faithfulness. If at all.

That’s the province of theocracies, not democracies — even if Lincoln did come up with it the first time around.

And again, this is a resolution, which means it doesn’t carry the force of law. And it is as I’ve previously pointed out, it is one of the many hundreds of pieces of ceremonial busy work that comes before the Legislature in every two-year session, distracting from the business of actual lawmaking.

So I’ll just ask Rep. Borowicz this one question — and in language that she might recognize:

WHEREAS: With the endless challenges now facing the Commonwealth: From hospitals struggling to get their hands on badly needed supplies to Pennsylvanians mourning the deaths of loved one from the virus; from parents scrambling to find childcare with schools canceled to people panicking about how they’ll make ends meet with their places of employment shuttered; from the strains on our mental health system to ensuring the guarantee of safety in our streets; in the face of all the manifold and unprecedented dilemmas that now confront us; and,

WHEREAS: With the authority you wield as a lawmaker to address some, or all, of those real, and life-changing problems, and to bring real relief to the voters you serve, don’t you have something else — anything else? — that you could be doing with your time?

RESOLVED: That the House State Government Committee, where this legislation currently resides, summarily ignores this headline-grabbing gesture, and gets about the badly needed business of ensuring the smooth and effective functioning of elections at this time of great need.

John L. Micek is Editor-in-Chief of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this article first appeared.

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