Governor Wolf recently said that because “Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn on the basis of tolerance” and “religious freedom” he supports a controversial bill planned to be reintroduced to the PA legislature by Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Pittsburgh). Yet there is cause for concern over its influence on religious freedom and the negative consequences we’re seeing across the country over this type of proposed Tolerance Law.

Pennsylvania is strongest when every citizen, regardless of background, life experience or individual perspective has the ability to live and work in freedom.

That is not the case with Rep. Frankel’s proposal, which would create special privileges for some people based on sexual orientation and “gender identity” while making Pennsylvania not at all welcoming or tolerant of those who believe there’s something special about marriage between one man and one woman.

A just society does not pass laws which assess penalties on its citizens who live out their convictions at home, school or the workplace. A better way to protect tolerance and religious freedom is continuing to allow Pennsylvania to be diverse and tolerant without threat or force of law.

Sadly, around the country we’re seeing anti-tolerant actions resulting from Rep. Frankel’s type of proposal:

  • Small businesses are being fined and forced to close.
  • Men have been permitted to use women’s restrooms and locker rooms.
  • Religious organizations have been forced to stop assisting with adoptions.

William Penn – whom Thomas Jefferson said was the “greatest lawgiver the world has produced” – spent his life applying his faith to his actions. Penn went to jail because of his faith. Seeking tolerance and religious freedom is what led him to America.

He believed “liberty of conscience” is not “a mere Liberty of Mind” but a liberty to exercise religion. To Penn, not only do we have the freedom to worship according to our faith but we shouldn’t be punished for living according to our religious conscience.

Our State Constitution – of which of elected officials just took an oath to support, obey and defend – reads “no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.” And just as William Penn said himself , “no people can be truly happy…if abridged of the Freedom of their Conscience.”

In parallel with Penn’s beliefs, Pennsylvania should protect its strong heritage of religious freedom by continuing to grant its citizens the ability to live and work freely without fear of the law. That’s why we encourage you to contact your representative and senator to stand for freedom & oppose Rep. Frankel’s bill (HB / SB 300).