Editor: There seems to be some concerns regarding my participation in a Better Angels workshop that is taking place at Patrick Henry College. I raised my concerns about having this workshop at Patrick Henry College with the main event organizer. I know that it has been much easier to get Democrats/Blues to participate then Republicans/Red. I have found the blues to be more outgoing. The blues would be more inclined to attend an event in a red location than vice versa.
Let me be clear and state that this workshop is not being organized by Patrick Henry College, but by a handful of young students who attend PHC. I have recruited two members of the LGBT community to participate and have made sure they are aware of PHC’s anti-LGBT beliefs. I think it is important to work with people and expose them to those who are different from them in order to dispel myths they might have about that particular community. Better Angels is not about changing minds but finding common ground. I do not expect PHC to change their anti-LGBT ways but perhaps a few of their students will be able to understand that our LGBT community are equals.
We need to remember that religious freedom in America also includes freedom from religion. This includes imposing your religious beliefs on a segment of our population because your religion interprets marriage in a limiting way. Or because your religion condemns their actions. That is your religion, not mine. You cannot subject others to living by your religious views. Isn’t that why people got on boats almost 400 years ago escaping religious persecution? I believe love is beautiful and you should be able to love yourself and be free to love who you love.
Better Angels does not have any connections with the Heritage Foundation. I think it is important to focus on individuals and not large organizations. I think there is plenty of work to be done depolarizing the middle of the spectrum that reaching out to the extremes does not make sense. LGBT rights are not an extremist idea. I think we all need to have a foundation of equality for all. Or we need to work with people in the hopes of bringing them to this understanding. Or at least bringing people in contact with those they advocate against to see the humanity in that person. This can only be done through face to face interactions.
I hope that I can be seen as having a reputation for working with people who do not always share my ideals. I think it is necessary for Republicans and Democrats to work together to move this country forward. I also think there are very few opportunities for people with differing opinions to speak with each other. This is something that polarizes us. Lack of exposure to those with differing opinions, an unwillingness to listen, and the ease of posting to social media and arguing have brought us to these Polarized Sates of America. We must work together to be united.
Charlotte McConnell, Sterling