Since colonial times, Maryland’s forefathers were among the world’s leaders in the movement toward religious freedom with the initial passage of An Act Concerning Religion in 1649. By enacting this legislation and continuing the fight for religious liberty and tolerance, the State of Maryland played an important founding role with the addition of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in 1791, which says, in part, that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Throughout her history, Maryland’s leaders have stood with the faith community to ensure equal access to the State’s civic, social, economic, health and political affairs by all Marylanders.
Building Interfaith Partnerships for a Stronger Maryland
The Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives has established working relationships with many faith leaders and organizations that serve Maryland’s communities. Its interfaith director works to foster and maintain effective communications and partnerships with Maryland’s faith community and the Governor’s Office on topics including domestic violence, homelessness, prison reform, feeding the hungry, and emergency and disaster preparedness.
Some of the leading organizations the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives has collaborated with include:
- Baltimore Jewish Council. Builds relationships and mutual understanding with ethnic, racial, and religious groups across Maryland; advocates at all levels of government for social justice and public resources on issues of concern to the Jewish community; and through education and action, promotes strong support for Israel and the Jewish people at home and throughout the world.
- Central Maryland Ecumenical Council is the common instrument of the Christian community in Baltimore city and adjacent counties. It focuses efforts on human services/social justice, interfaith dialogue, and ecumenical worship.
- Catholic Charities is a human services organization, deeply rooted in faith, and committed to having a profound impact in the communities and on the lives of those it assists and serves.
- Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington Its Maryland, Northern Virginia, and District of Columbia commissions partner with local and state organizations to reach out to government officials at the federal, state, and local levels to advance the legislative of the Jewish community in Metropolitan Washington.
- The Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring serves thousands of families in Washington metropolitan area. Its medical clinic provides high-quality affordable health care services to the adult population regardless of race, color, ethnicity, faith, gender, or country of Origin.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). The LDS Church provides spiritual support to communities regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or faith. It supports community with free services, such as food through local Bishops, job and career training, development services, career planning, and individual coaching. The LDS Church provides an opportunity for individuals to give back or donate time to the community.
- The Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington. Fall of 1978, they bring together the first in the U.S. Islamic groups with Jewish, Protestant, and Roman Catholic organizations and the dual purpose of interfaith dialogue and collaboration for social justice. Members include Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu-Jain, Islamic, Jewish, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Protestants, Roman Catholic, Sikh, and Zoroastrian. It works to build a just community and to deepen the understanding among and about persons of diverse faiths.