Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

February 26, 2014

Thanks for withdrawing CHCO legislation

On behalf of the Allegany County Branch of the NAACP, we wish to express our appreciation for your decision to withdraw SB1037/HB1444, which would have authorized the Board of County Commissioners of Allegany County to designate a portion of marriage license fees collected in the county for distribution to the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization (CHCO) (“Cemetery organization aid proposal withdrawn,” Feb. 21 Times-News, Page 1A).

 It is our understanding that this enabling legislation was co-filed by the members of the delegation as a matter of local courtesy at the request of Commissioner McKay and that, upon further consideration of the commissioner’s request, the delegation voted to withdraw the legislation.

This legislation would have created a permanent source of funding for a single private entity with no accountability to the government or citizens of Allegany County.

While we may agree that the CHCO has carried out some worthwhile projects aimed at preserving and promoting the region’s historic gravesites, we have serious concerns about distributing public funds to promote the religious and political activities described in the organization’s mission and programs.

 We fully support the CHCO’s First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly. However, we cannot condone the use of public funds to finance such speech by an organization with views that can only be seen as out of step with those of our community and nation.

In recent years, the CHCO has used its funding and resources to carry out political activities related to its positions on abortion, the placement of religious symbols in government buildings, the defense of the Confederacy, and the need to uphold Judeo-Christian — or “Western” — values.

In fact, the organization’s own website lists support and provides a link to at least one organization — Truth in History, operated by Kingdom Ministries — listed as a Neo-Confederate Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

 While we are pleased with the outcome in this instance, we remain very concerned that any elected official in our community might be willing to lend support and advocate for public funding for an organization with overt ties to national hate groups.

Rest assured that the Allegany County Branch of the NAACP remains vigilant to the actions of our elected officials.

As public sentiment quickly coalesced around this issue, we are grateful for the prompt attention and appropriate response of the Allegany County Delegation.

Valerie Lashley, president

NAACP, Allegany County Branch

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