Michigan Senator Mallory McMorrow reportedly defended herself on a five-minute speech in the state's Senate floor last Tuesday, April 19, against accusations of grooming kids out of her being an LGBTQ rights backer.
Religion News reported that Senator Mallory McMorrow raised the need to "reclaim faith from people who were using it as a weapon to hate people" during her speech. McMorrow's speech particularly lambasted Senator Lana Theis who accused her of being a groomer simply because she defended LGBTQ rights.
Theis made the accusations through a fundraising email that singled out McMorrow to be grooming and sexualizing kindergartners. The email was sent after Theis opened a legislative session where she prayed for children who are under attack by "forces." McMorrow reportedly walked out of the said session along with fellow Democrats.
During her speech, McMorrow recounted being taught by her mother that faith is about being part of a community and being of service to people, especially those who are unfairly targeted, marginalized, and have less.
"I learned that service was far more important than performative nonsense like being seen in the same pew every Sunday or writing 'Christian' in your Twitter bio and using that as a shield to target and marginalize already marginalized people," McMorrow said.
The senator disclosed in an interview with Religion News that, though she is not attached to a specific faith at the moment, she still considers herself a Christian. She stressed that faith has been used throughout history as either a source of hope and community or for "really dark things." She explained that it was for the latter reason she walked out of the prayer session led by Theis.
"I think, what we're seeing play out right now: this performative Christianity and this idea that if you say in your Twitter bio that you're a wife and a Christian, that somehow that gives you authority to tell anybody who isn't that they're less than and to push policies and rhetoric that's just hateful. That's why I walked out of the prayer," McMorrow revealed.
The senator recounted being asked frequently about the reason why prayer is being held during legislative sessions when there is a separation of church and state. She reasoned that prayer reminds those present, especially the legislative body, of their great responsibility to the citizens of the state. Prayer is also a means for them to not only come together but also get the guidance they need to do their responsibility.
McMorrow pointed out that Theis alluded to Florida's Parental Rights In Education Act, which protects children from ideologies. The senator expressed disgust at the alleged misuse of prayer to highlight the claims of the Florida law. She called the matter a hypocrisy since the law claims children are under attack yet disregards LGBTQ kids as though they do not count as children.
McMorrow highlighted that her speech garnered an overwhelmingly positive response from not only residents of Michigan but as far as Israel, Germany, and Lebanon. She said people of different faiths attest to resonate with what she said. Her supporters agree that faith is not hateful.
On the other hand, Theis admitted in a radio appearance last week that her email was "clunky" and could have been written differently. However. the senator defended that her definition of groomers had nothing to do with pedophiles. For her, it referred to people who desensitize the sexualization of children by creating comfort in the child for sexual issues. The groomer also creates a rift between a child and his or her parents such that they no longer feel they have a protective system available to them.
"I would have had that language to be written differently...But you should never be providing inappropriate sexual content to a child," Theis said.