Christians Counter Pagan Prayer to Wiccan ‘Goddess’ Before Iowa LegislatureA number of Christians countered a pagan prayer delivered on Thursday before the Iowa state legislature by a local Wiccan priestess. “We call this morning to God, goddess, universe—that which is greater than ourselves to be here today,” Deborah Maynard, 43, a Unitarian Universalist and the leader of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, opened her invocation. “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.” “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,” she continued. “Blessed be, aho and amen.” Rep. Liz Bennett (D-Cedar Rapids) had extended the invitation to Maynard, and told the Associated Press that she “met with some people on both sides of the aisle just to let them know that the invocation or the prayer Deb will be offering will be very inclusive.” But approximately half of lawmakers chose to skip out the invocation because they did not wish to join a witch in prayer, and the Family Leader organized an alternative Christian prayer gathering at the capitol as a counter to Maynard’s presence.  “We feel that this is completely out of sync with the traditions of our state and our nation to seek guidance from the occult,” Michael Demastus, pastor of Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, told reporters. “We believe it is just not a good idea.” He said that as Maynard spoke, “I was praying for her salvation. I was praying that she would come to know the one true God.” FULL REPORT