D15A05.16 - Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) Local Law Enforcement Grants: Protecting Religious Institutions

Committee: Senate Public Safety, Transportation, and Environment Subcommittee

Position: SUPPORT

The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT the FY2020 $3 million allocation to implement additional 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.

The FY2020 $3 million allocation to implement additional security measures at houses of worship at risk of hate crimes. Particularly in light of recent events, this funding is needed to protect places of worship, which are institutions central to our American communities. This funding serves a legitimate public interest in protecting citizens in places where they may be most vulnerable to attack.

A 2017 Maryland State Police report showed a 40% increase in hate crime activity annually over a two-year period. The Church denounces such activity and maintains that something must be done to curb the recent spike. 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)

Hate crimes are on the rise and people should be able to exercise their faith free of threats and violence. It is for these reasons that we urge a favorable report for this program.