Committees: House Public Safety and Administration Subcommittee and Senate Public Safety, Transportation, and Environment Subcommittee
The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT the fiscal year 2022 allocation of $3 million to implement security measures at houses of worship at risk of hate crimes. The Catholic Conference represents the public policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland, including the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.
This fund provides vital resources in an effort to combat susceptibility to hate crimes. Particularly in light of recent events, this funding is needed to protect places of worship, which are institutions central to Maryland communities. This funding serves a legitimate public interest in protecting citizens in places where they may be most vulnerable to attack.
A fall 2019 report by the Maryland State Police cited 398 hate/bias incidents reported to law enforcement agencies in the State in the 2017 calendar year. In 2018, 375 hate/bias incidents reported to law enforcement agencies in the State. The Church denounces such activity and supports commonsense measures to curb hate-motivated activity. Pope Francis has stated that the “problem of intolerance must be confronted in all its forms” and that where persons are “persecuted and marginalized because of [their] religious convictions or ethnic identity, the wellbeing of society as a whole is endangered and each one of us must feel affected.” (Pope Francis, Address to a Delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, 2013)
We applaud the effort by our state to protect its citizens in places where they are most vulnerable to hate crimes. It is our hope that the legislature will again provide much-needed funding for this initiative. We respectfully urge a favorable report for this program expenditure in the FY 2022 Operating Budget.