Iowa Had A Witch Say Prayer Before A Legislative Session And People Got A Bit Hysterical

The last time I checked, someone who identifies as Wiccan is a modern day pagan who practices witchcraft, believes numerous gods and goddesses, utilizes some belief in magic, and generally tends to slant towards to the more positive side of living. I’m glossing over a lot, I’m sure, but my point is to show that they aren’t your traditional broomstick and cauldron witches from folklore.

That would be why some members of the Iowa House of Representatives invited a Wiccan witch to their chambers in order to lead the hall in a prayer before a recent session. From The Washington Post:

Wiccan priestess Deborah Maynard, from Cedar Rapids, called on “God,” but also “Goddess,” and “Universe.” She called on the four elements—air, earth, fire, and water—to lend wisdom and strength. She called on the fifth element, spirit, to help lawmakers “respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”

Rep. Liz Bennett (D) said she invited Maynard in an effort to show that Iowans are diverse and inclusive. Bennett had been asking all the spiritual leaders in her community—including a Lutheran pastor, a pastor from a gay-affirming church, a rabbi, and a Zen Buddhist.

That’s all nice and positive. I’d call it silly, but it’s not hurting anybody, at least not in reality. In the minds of some of the representatives and gawkers in attendance — and many who skipped out to miss this particular blessing — this was the worst thing to ever happen in Iowa legislature:

Rep. Rob Taylor (R) attended, but turned his back during the blessing. This, he believes, is what Jesus would have done. “Jesus would be in the chamber, from my perspective. He would passively protest,” he told reporters.

Pastor Mike Demastus from the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ was in the audience balcony leading his own prayer for Maynard’s soul. “I was praying for her salvation. I was praying that she would come to know the one true God,” he told Radio Iowa.

“We feel that this is completely out of sync with the traditions of our state and our nation to seek guidance from the occult,” he said to the Register.

Michelle Gute came to pray so as to counteract Maynard’s Wiccan prayer. “I don’t want any demonic influences on the people who are making decisions on our behalf,” she said to the Cedar Rapids Gazette. (via)

First thing that came to mind is what Jesus would really do if he appeared in the modern world. I don’t think he’d turn his back on anybody and would probably lean more towards cowering in fear at the sight of every modern convenience we take for granted. A witch would probably be the least of his concern.

But going along with Rep. Taylor, let’s try to see what would Jesus disapprove of in this “demonic” prayer. Were these people right to turn their backs and shut off their ears? Let’s check out the full prayer and find out:

“We call this morning to God, Goddess, Universe, that which is greater than ourselves to be here with us today.

By the earth that is in our bones and centers us: May all here remember our roots and those whom we are here to represent.

By the fire that gives us light and passion: May all here remain passionate about the work that must be done for the people of Iowa.

By the air that gives us breath and logic: May all here find thoughtful solutions to the problems that are presented.

By the water that flows through our blood and stirs our emotions: May all here draw on that emotional intelligence which helps us to see the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

We call this morning to spirit, which is ever present, to help us respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. Be with this legislative body and guide them to seek justice, equity, and compassion in the work that is before them today.

Blessed Be, Ah ho, and Amen.” (via)

There’s mention of fire, that might be demonic. And she mentions the Earth a few times, so she’s clearly a tree hugger. I guess the only real issue I see for Jesus is that he doesn’t get mentioned.

The issue that doesn’t come up is why they’re having prayer in a government building to begin with, but that’s foolish to bring up at this point. I’m just happy that it’s 2015 and we’re discussing witches in The Washington Post.

(Via The Washington Post)