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Learn from people of all beliefs

To the Editor:

As a Jew and a Programs in Religion, Interfaith and Spirituality Matters Board Member, I read Emerson Brooking’s column (“Give Me That Old Time Religion,” 10/5/10) with interest. Although I disagree with much of what Brooking had to say, the article was eloquently written and not offensive. As a PRISM co-chairman explained in the piece, PRISM strives for interfaith dialogue. The discussions and resulting learning are most rich when diversity is at a maximum. However, PRISM thrives not only on diversity, but also on respect. We come to the table to learn from each other because of the richness new knowledge and diverse friendships bring to our lives. We do not meet to fundamentally change the practices and beliefs of our classmates.

All individuals are welcome to join PRISM, whether or not their faith community is represented. All faith groups are encouraged to apply for membership. PRISM has never turned down membership to an evangelical group — such a group has simply never applied.

Many Penn students have never before and will never again live in such a diverse community. In order to benefit from all Penn has to offer, we must take time to learn from (not change) all beliefs and backgrounds, whether we agree with them or not. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to learn from Brooking.

Hannah Weiss The author is a College senior and a PRISM executive board member. Weiss wrote the letter on behalf of PRISM. Reasonable for students to join a Tea Party

To the Editor:

As a lifelong Democrat and supporter of President Barack Obama in 2008, I was disheartened by a Penn Democrats officer’s dismissal of the new campus Tea Party chapter on the grounds that Tea Party members allegedly “have no sense of intellectualism” and that “people [at Penn] are too smart to fall for it” (“Chinburg launches Philadelphia Tea Party Patriots at Penn,” 10/1/10).

In 2008, Obama fought off accusations that Democrats would explode the national debt and massively expand many government programs — yet since then, the federal government has invested heavily in several economic sectors and has overseen the greatest national debt increase over any two-year period in American history. It is reasonable for today’s voters to form a movement specifically dedicated to expressing concerns over government spending, and I see no reason why Penn students might be “too smart” to do so. Moreover, the officer’s remark that the Tea Party ought to be dismissed because its members express many factual inaccuracies is an argument which implies the rejection of any political party large enough to contain many misinformed people. Dismissal of a party must follow from an analysis of that party’s likely policy initiatives and ability to follow through with them.

Barry Slaff The author is a College senior.

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