Dana Beyer on Open Government and Funding of Religious Schools ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dana Beyer on Open Government and Funding of Religious Schools

The following has been provided by Dana Beyer, M.D., a retired eye surgeon, is a well-known advocate for public health, good government, women’s and gender rights. She is a candidate for Maryland State Delegate in District 18 this year:
Private and parochial schools do not need a boost of public money - they should maintain their independence

My brother and I each had a superb Jewish religious day school education. I have many friends who fondly remember their childhoods in Catholic school. There was even a time when many Jewish children attended Catholic school for the quality education. Those school experiences were wholly paid for by my parents and my friends' parents, personally sacrificing for their children.

Today there is an insidious attempt to undermine the separation of church and state here in Maryland. The Catholic Conference, alarmed because of loss of parishioner support necessitating the closure of a dozen schools, is trying to tap into the state treasury for a bail-out. And to top it off, they're doing it during a budget crisis, and thumbing their nose at the state's anti-discrimination laws.

Those last two points are very important, and reason enough to kill this bill (BOAST / HB946), but there is a much more fundamental, principled reason. This country was founded by those escaping religious persecution, and the government was structured to prevent the religious wars that had recently convulsed Europe. We can rationally discuss this issue today because of that secular foundation laid in the 18th century, a foundational structure which has prevented religious Balkanization in America.

If this bill passes, then the state will have to intervene in church affairs to enforce our laws and protect students from discrimination, whether the church considers that discrimination justified or not. Fundamentalist Protestants will do battle with Catholics again, and reform Jews will be pitted against orthodox Jews for a piece of the pie.

I don't believe any legislator is anticipating with pleasure the parade of religious organizations demanding their cut. It will not just be limited to the various denominations of Catholics and Jews; there will be Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists and many, many others demanding their fair share. And they will be entitled to it, since this is America and we treat people fairly.

Let's not recreate the Thirty Years War in Annapolis. Defeat HB 946.

Let the sun shine on Maryland government, technologically speaking

We are fortunate to live in an electronic age where people can be connected in ways undreamed of just decades ago. Monday night my parents and ex joined my family Passover seder from Florida and Israel, respectively, via video conference. My father ran the services as he always has, and the family, the entire family, shared a warm tradition. Neither illness nor distance interfered with that tradition.
Similarly we are on the verge of taking Maryland to the next level of citizen  access and government transparency. With some minimal technological advances, thanks to the Speaker and President, citizens are now able to check committee voting records.  With passage of HB 344 / SB 407, the Maryland Open Government Act, they will be able to register online to speak at a hearing, not only saving them precious hours out of their day but allowing committee chairs to know in advance how many people will be testifying, and to limit those numbers if necessary. Our state’s residents will be able to view committee hearings online, saving themselves the trip to Annapolis and its associated costs. We will all have greater insight into the actions of the Board of Public Works, which this year alone made nearly $1B worth of cuts when the legislature was out of session. With the new funding mechanism voters will be able to get up-to-the minute information on their legislation of interest, a service which now costs $800 but which will become available to all. This new funding mechanism is welcomed by the professional lobbyists, who will come out ahead as well.
This bill is a win for everyone – committee chairs, lobbyists, legislators, activists, and, most importantly, the citizens of Maryland. We will begin a new tradition of transparency and access of which we can all be very proud.
Dana Beyer, M.D.
Chevy Chase, MD

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