Some Christian lawmakers on Thursday silently protested the first Wiccan prayer in the Iowa state House Chambers by turning their backs or refusing to attend. Priestess Deborah Maynard of the People’s Church Unitarian Universalist Church told KCRG that offering the first-ever Wiccan prayer in the Iowa legislature was both scary and exhilarating. But she said that the most difficult part was limiting the prayer to one minute or less.
“We call this morning to God, Goddess, Universe, that which is greater than ourselves to be with us here today,” she prayed. “By the Earth that is in our bones and centers us, may all here remember our roots and those 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,” the priestess continued. “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.”
Maynard concluded by calling on the “ever-present” spirit to “help us respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. Be with us and this legislative body and guide them to seek justice, equity and compassion in the work that is before them today.”
But Republican state Rep. Rob Taylor and some of his colleagues found Maynard’s presence so offensive that they launched a silent protest.
Taylor explained to KCRG that he prayed and asked, “What would Jesus do?” In the end, he decided to “be in the presence of a prayer, but peacefully protest” by turning his back. Other lawmakers refused to attend Thursday’s opening ceremonies.
“Jesus would be in the chamber, from my perspective, he would passively protest. Then he would seek that individual out and have peaceful conversation about why his way was the best way,” the lawmaker said. “Everyone has the right to come into our chamber — it is the people’s chamber — and pray and she did and this was the way for me to peacefully protest.”
Taylor admitted to KCRG that he had not turned his back during Islamic and Jewish prayers.
Other Christian Iowans attended the prayer because they thought it would counteract demonic spirits.
“I was praying for her salvation,” Pastor Michael Demastus, who was in the balcony, recalled. “I was praying that she would come to know the one true God… “I believe that the occult is dark. I do believe that’s not the place to see guidance from, so I was not praying against her. I was praying against what she was doing.”
Michelle Gute said that she came to stop demons from influencing the lawmakers.
“I don’t want any demonic influences on the people who are making decisions on our behalf,” she insisted. “I was not praying with her.”
“I was praying the opposite. Our country was founded on godly principles, not goddesses and whoever she was praying to,” Gute added.