As former leaders of the College Republicans here at Penn, we would like to express our utter dismay at the position that the recent College Republicans article took on the issue of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Not only was the implicit comparison between serving neo-Nazis and gay couples grossly inappropriate, but also the entire theme of the article was antithetical to what had formerly been the creed of the organization on Penn’s campus.
Let us remind readers, and the current College Republicans board, that the Penn College Republicans openly endorsed gay marriage in a 2013 statement co-sponsored with Penn Democrats. Likewise, College Republicans again bucked the party line this year when the group endorsed immigration reform. College Republicans on this campus has long billed itself as an organization maintaining a moderate, centrist outlook — a voice of reason within a party that has oft expressed social positions that we as college students view as politically and morally untenable.
If we are to have a serious discussion about the boundary between religious freedom and discrimination, then we should bear in mind the immense lessons of the Holocaust, which was officially memorialized by the Jewish community worldwide this past week. While the author of the College Republicans article claims to have no knowledge of a religion which would prescribe discrimination, it is impossible to ignore the theological underpinnings of historical European anti-Semitism and of the continual discrimination against homosexuals on a global level that resulted in centuries of persecution. Would the College Republicans author deny that the religious belief that Jews were responsible for the death of Christ or that homosexuality is an abomination, both of which have been prominently held beliefs in the doctrine of various churches, opens the door to societal discrimination? While there are certainly many good people of every faith that would reject interpretations of their religion that would cause harm to others, there is no doubt that such interpretations have always existed and persist in our world today.
George Washington once described the United States as a nation “which gives to bigotry no sanction, and to persecution no assistance.” In keeping with the ideals of our country’s first leader, we as former leaders of the College Republicans feel compelled not only to reject the article recently published by our organization, but also the very statute it sought to defend. Any law that would sanction bigotry against homosexuals or any other group in the name of freedom of religion is contrary to our values as conservatives, as Republicans and as Americans.
Anthony Cruz C‘15
Joshua Spector C‘15
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.