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Open letter from our Administrator as we fight for religious liberty against government overreach.

Dear Friends,

We want to make all supporters of The Hope Center at Hagerstown Rescue Mission aware of an attack on our religious rights to function as a faith-based, private, non-profit homeless shelter in the State of Maryland. If our state government succeeds in creating a law to mandate operational requirements for this homeless shelter, what will limit them in advancing to control all private, faith-based non-profits?

The Maryland legislature is fast-tracking House Bill 577 and Senate Bill 1107 to require all homeless shelters in the state to be licensed. Homeless shelters are already regulated through federal, state, county, and city regulations. This law requiring licensure will allow the state government to control almost all aspects of shelter management, even if those controls directly oppose biblical and Christian standards, conduct, and beliefs.

In response to opposition, the bill's sponsor, Delegate Grossman (of Washington County), verbalized that shelters will still have management independence. We respectfully disagree with that assessment and encourage all supporters to read the bills to become informed on this governmental overreach and violation of our Christian rights and standards.

We Recommend ALL SUPPORTERS READ THE BILLS:

https://legiscan.com/MD/text/HB577/2024

https://legiscan.com/MD/text/SB1107/2024

Potential Impact on The Hope Center at Hagerstown Rescue Mission:

This will directly impact our shelter ministry and the 50 men we house every night. The potential is that our shelter services will close (for the first time since 1955). The Administration, Board of Directors, and Leadership of The Hope Center are clear that our greater mandate is to follow God’s Biblical standards, and we will not compromise His calling for this ministry.

 

This may give governmental control over the following (this list is not all-inclusive):

  • Organizational incorporation- if we do not comply with their mandates, this may impact our organization’s incorporation.

  • Number and duty of paid staff- Our staff sign a Statement of Faith, attend a local church, and openly share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with our residents.

  • Procedures for vetting volunteers- Our volunteers sign a Statement of Faith and openly share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with our residents.

  • Admissions policies- We base admissions on the Lord’s guidance and what works best for our shelter and do not recommend a carte blanche approach to admissions. One example is that this law would require us to accept intoxicated individuals (drugs or alcohol), which poses a safety risk to our residents, will trigger those fighting addiction, as well as violates our biblical values and teachings.

  • Visitation policies- an example of the micro inclusions in this bill and the scope of governmental overreach.

  • Rules and regulations for residents- Our rules and regulations are based on our Christ-centered, Biblical worldview.

  • Policies that affirm governmental definitions of discrimination, including Sex and Gender Identity- God has called us to be a men’s shelter (and we have faithfully served as that for almost 70 years). Our current facilities do not allow us to safely house women in a manner that would be Biblically sound. In addition, we house biological men, and allowing women who say they are men would go against our Christian beliefs, as well as create a potentially unsafe environment for those in our shelter. Only in our men’s overnight shelter do we limit those we serve. We offer all other services (food, clothing, meals, etc.) to anyone in need, regardless of Sex or Gender Identity.

How you can help:

This is a David versus Goliath fight. In thinking about David’s boldness and bravery, we take the essence of his words and say, “You come against us with governmental overreach, but we come against you in the name of the Lord of Hosts!”

We ask all supporters to:

  1. Read the bills and become informed;

  2. PRAY;

  3. Share with as many people as possible;

  4. Contact your Maryland legislators.

https://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/06hse/html/hsedist.html

https://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/05sen/html/sene.html

Thank you for your attention to this matter,

Aimee Izer
Administrator

 

Included below is an example response to send to your representatives:

 

Dear Delegate/Senator [name],

My name is [your name] of [city, state]. I want to express my opposition to [HB577 or SB1107]. The bill gives operational control of all homeless shelters in the state, despite concerns around private, faith-based non-profit organizations that operate in a manner that follows all existing health and safety regulations but operationally follows a Biblical worldview. If this law passes, it will infringe on the religious rights of private, faith-based organizations.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

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