LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Hypocritical for senators to oppose Muslim prayer

The following is an open letter to the Delaware State Senate

I was very disheartened today (April 6) to read about an incident that occurred yesterday on the floor of our state Senate chamber over the opening prayer that starts each day’s session of the senate. [“Senators object to reading of Muslim prayer”] In the event that anyone reading this is not familiar with the incident, the prayer included the reading of a passage from the Quran by a member of Tarbiyah Mosque that caused [state] Senators Bonini and Lawson to walk out, and statements to be made when they re-entered the chamber, and then, a rebuttal statement to be made later by Senate President Pro Tem McBride.

Sen. Lawson is quoted as saying, “We heard from the Quran that advocates for our very demise and that’s brought into this chamber as a prayer to open this session. I take great exception to that, I fought for this country not to be damned by someone that comes here and prays to their God for our demise. I think that’s despicable.” What Sen. Lawson’s statement is ignoring is the fact that his statement represents the smallest segment of the world’s Muslim population. But yet, on a daily basis, people like Sens. Bonini and Lawson continue to stand on the side of ignorance and arrogance and continue to use that minority of the Muslim population to paint all Muslims with the broadest possible brush.

I felt that there are some questions begging to be asked of Sen. Lawson in this. Where, Sir, did you acquire your knowledge of what the Quran says and doesn’t say? Have you studied it yourself, or have you acquired your knowledge second-hand? And as for the senator’s service to this country, I am very grateful for that service, just as I am grateful for the service to our country, and in many cases, sacrifices made for this country by Muslims whose service and sacrifice are discredited by the senator’s actions and statement that is tantamount to the senator saying that Muslims only condemn and attack America and do nothing to benefit the nation or the common good of our nation.

As for how Sen. Bonini, citing poor treatment of women and the LGBT communities in Muslim-majority nations and how listening to a Muslim prayer and reading from the Quran would validate that, it’s all a bit myopic, isn’t it? It discounts the number of Christian religious leaders who actively preach hate towards the LGBT communities and utilize passages in the Bible to justify it.

In the course of the history of this nation and the history of Christianity, the Bible has been used to justify condemnation and killing in far greater numbers by a much larger population of the world, including, but not limited to, Jews, pagans, the LGBT community, the indigenous peoples of North America, Central America, South America, Australia, New Zealand and many other parts of the world, people of color and pretty much anyone who dared to disagree with the authority of the Christian church. So, wouldn’t listening to a reading from the Bible and a Christian prayer validate that behavior?

I find it highly hypocritical that a Republican senator would cite the poor treatment of the LGBT community in a condemnation of Muslims, considering that it is mostly the Republican Party who stands opposed to any legislation that would ensure the legal equality of members of the LGBT community in this nation. It is also mainly the Republican Party who continues to use “anti-bestiality” laws to target gay men and push for and defend, in many states, laws that allow employers to fire employees just because they are gay.

But by all means, we can’t listen to a Muslim prayer because it would validate the poor treatment of the LGBT community and women in Muslim-majority nations.

If we live in a nation where the concept of having a wall of separation between church and the state is so great that our founding fathers saw fit to make it the First Amendment of the Constitution, thereby enshrining that concept as being highest among all others, how, then, is it appropriate to open a session of the Senate with a prayer from any religion?

Ricky Shehorn

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