News ReleaseLiberty Bell
For Immediate Release: April 23, 2015
Contact: Diane Gramley 1.814.271.9078 or 1.814.437.5355

Religious Liberty Group Appalled by Philadelphia City Council’s “Open Letter”

(Harrisburg) — On April 9th Mayor Michael Nutter and all Philadelphia City Council members signed “An Open Letter to Those Affected by Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) Laws.”   The letter outlines  the supposed dangers of Religious Freedom Restoration laws and invites all those who feel they’ve been discriminated against in the 20 states that have RFRA laws to relocate to Philadelphia. Yesterday the American Family Association of Pennsylvania (AFA of PA), a statewide group advocating for religious freedom, faxed a letter to Mayor Nutter and each of the City Council members expressing disbelief that such a letter would come from the city where the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were signed.

“Our letter also pointed out a couple items the Philadelphia City Council failed to mention in their letter as they touted the city’s ‘inclusiveness.’ One was the direct assault on religious freedom when the city arrested eleven Christians back in October 2004 and charged them with riot, disorderly conduct and hate crime violations for reading Scripture and singing chorus at a homosexual event. The other was the fact that Philadelphia is one of the 25 cities in the US with the highest HIV rate and that the Centers for Disease Control has consistently reported that men who have sex with men account for more than three-quarters of all new HIV cases,” further explained Diane Gramley, President of the AFA of PA.

The AFA of PA fax notes: “The letter also touts the Number 1 rating that the Human Rights Campaign, the largest homosexual lobby group in the nation, has given Philadelphia in their Municipal Equality Index.   This is nothing to brag about! All it does is show that the City of Philadelphia has bowed to the demands of a small minority simply because of the sexual activity in which they engage or who they think they are.

Included in the Philadelphia letter is a bit of revised history as it encourages elected officials who are behind RFRA laws to visit Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and National Constitution Center “for a refresher course on the religious persecution this country was founded to escape. ” We wholly agree that this nation was founded by Christians wishing to escape religious persecution, something denied by most history textbooks in today’s schools. However, this implies that RFRA laws create religious persecution; while, in reality, efforts to rewrite the First Amendment and oppose RFRA laws create and encourage religious persecution. This letter indicates the City of Philadelphia falls in this camp.”

“It is quite evident the City of Philadelphia is more concerned about a small minority. Only 2.7 percent of the population in PA identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, according to a 2012 Gallup poll, which places Pennsylvania among the ten states with the lowest percentage of LGBT residents.    Philadelphia’s opposition to RFRA laws shows its support for religious persecution. Perhaps Mayor Nutter and City Council members should revisit the real history of the founding of this nation and not accuse RFRA supporters of distorting history,” noted Gramley.

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