Sunday, February 16, 2014

How to lobby Maryland for secular state laws

By Mathew Goldstein 

Secular activism tends to focus on federal government and courts.  Lobbying for secularism in state and local government can be difficult.  State and local governments tend to be more parochial and more antagonistic to secularism.  Religious groups are organized and active at the state and local levels.  Candidates for public office turn to the congregants in their house of worship to staff their campaigns.  The constitutional courts at the state level tend to have elected judges, and constitutional amendments must be approved by the voters, making it more difficult to protect minority rights from public opinion.

The Secular Coalition for America is trying to organize state chapters to lobby for secularism in each state.  I am trying to help them get their Maryland chapter going.  Initially, press releases were sent by email to media contacts.  Currently the chapter is working on getting written testimony to various Senate and House committees that are reviewing bills.  The committee decisions on bills are usually decisive.  If a committee favors a bill then it is almost always approved, and vice versa.

If you are a resident of Maryland then you can help by writing to the committees reviewing the bills.  However, there are over a thousand bills in each chamber and several dozen different committees reviewing different bills every day.  The General Assembly processes all of these bills within 90 days each year starting in January and ending in March.  It is already mid February.  If you want secular government in Maryland then what can you do?

The Secular Coalition for Maryland now hosts a web page to make it a little easier to send emails to the committees that are reviewing the bills.  Please visit the lobbying action web site, while the General Assembly is still in session, here:

No comments: