Responding to Dr. Scott Bastian's letter on April 9, I appreciate Dr. Bastian's cogent and coherent response. I do, however, have to respectfully disagree with much of what was said in Dr. Bastian's letter. Before getting to the crux of my disagreement with him, though, I would like to offer a few clarificatory remarks.
While Dr. Bastian claims I "was more conservatively minded prior to [my] matriculation at the University of Pennsylvania," and goes on to posit that the supposed change in my political views can be traced back to my time here, this is not quite accurate in two distinct ways.
Glenn Beck Program, libertarianism and conservatism are two distinctly different political philosophies.
While they both laud free markets, they don't have much in common. The policy conclusions which are shared, tend to be those concerning the economic realm – particularly the role of government in regulation, taxation, and general intervention in the economy. They do not share similar conclusions in the social realm. Whereas conservatism values tradition and the nebulous idea of "family values," libertarianism values allowing consenting adults to do what they may given that they do not harm other people. Marriage equality for LGBT individuals is one such issue which does not harm others and involves fully-consenting adults.
Second, my matriculation at the University of Pennsylvania has not led to a liberalization of my views. Contrary to what conservative pundits like to claim, academia is not a bastion of liberal brainwashing. Academia prides itself on the openness of ideas, not censorship.
Moving on to Dr. Bastian's points in his letter, I would like to point to his assertion that the analogy between interracial marriages and LGBT marriages is not valid. I ask Dr. Bastian and others of the same opinion, how so? Both involve holier-than-thou majorities imposing their will on minorities which ask to rise to the same status as everybody else. The analogy is quite clear.
Concerning my media on the practicality of voting to effect social change, I do not see how this is relevant to the issue at hand. This is a mere red herring and a strawman used to attempt to discredit me.
I am perhaps most perplexed by how Dr. Bastian reconciles the First Amendment with his idea that the Framers wanted a state religion. Beyond the free speech clause of the First Amendment also lies the establishment clause and the free exercise clause, which very clearly lend evidence that the United States was not meant to be "a Christian nation which graciously allows the practice of other religions on our soil," nor was it meant to be a Jewish nation, an Islamic nation, a Hindu nation, a Mormon nation, or any other type of religious state. To imply such a thing is historically inaccurate and belittling to those of other religions who have been citizens of this country for generations.
Should Dr. Bastian wish for more evidence pertaining to this fact, I recommend he and others read Thomas Jefferson's "Letter to the Danbury Baptists," which establishes the constitutionally-recognized idea of strict separationism: "...I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."
I do not reject the idea that religion may be necessary and helpful, but it is simply a matter-of-fact that the United States was not meant, in any way, shape, or form to be a religious state.
I thank Dr. Bastian for his response and do hope that he and others join me in this enjoyable discussion on the role of government.
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, native of Somerset