Greetings, Members of the Board of Education,

I am Rev. Steve Hofmeister, the Chapter Lead for the Maryland Black Robe Regiment. I address you today to introduce our organization and speak about some matters we find of great concern.

You are welcome to research the history and review our website https://blackrobemd.org to understand why we honor such a name; the secretary and all Board Members have been copied on this communication. This is the full version of the scaled-down address I gave in public comment to the Board of Education on September 18, 2023.

The Maryland Black Robe Regiment is a chapter of America’s Black Robe Regiment (https://abrr.us), an association of Christian Clergy, Lay Leaders, and Patriots representing 12 States and growing. We are committed to resisting tyranny and leading a movement to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.(preamble of the Constitution)

Though the name “Black Robe Regiment” has a militant ring, we do not condone violent action or the taking up arms in rebellion as an organization. However, we openly speak on all matters affecting our churches and communities, guided by the Full Counsel of God.

As an organization, we do not honor the unconstitutional “Johnson Amendment,” also known as the 501 (c) (3) provisions of the Internal Revenue Service Code, or any validity to the unenforceable and unconstitutional misinterpretation of separation of church and state. We do not advocate that our faith should be taught in public schools; however, we also believe it should not be denied or censored if one practices it publicly.

We act to preach, teach, and stand firm to protect our God-given “Inalienable Rights” as Christian Citizens and Clergy. We stand to defend the integrity of the Constitution, our nation’s Godly founding, and its citizens’ best interests.

Recently, another organization donated with honorable intention a significant amount of “Pocket Constitutions” to Harford County Public Schools. This Organization’s efforts have been met with the usual public backlash this particular organization receives. As usual, that backlash strives to diminish the intention of this action with political bravado.

Let’s take the political blinders off for a few minutes. Our future generations are not being taught the Constitution in its entirety. Our nation has a constitutional literacy problem far surpassing lifestyle views, racial dynamics, political affiliations, or religious convictions. The pocket constitutions were an effort to make at least the smallest dents in this constitutional literacy problem. We will skip our commentary on how Constitutional Education is required by Federal law during this particular week for brevity since we know you have or will be hearing from others on that topic. If you [sic] or an organization are against kids learning the Constitution, then that is one’s conviction to wrestle with. Still, no one should argue about these “Pocket Constitutions” simply because they don’t care for the only organization that tried to do something about Constitutional literacy in this County.

At the last board session on 9/11/2023, a fellow clergyman spoke about an issue he views with the organization responsible for printing these “Pocket Constitutions,” known as the 917 Project, referring to September 17th, or Constitution Day. https://harfordcountypublicschoolsmd.new.swagit.com/videos/271175?ts=2310

He made an issue with the content provided on their website and other associated content.

He stated that the 917 Society posted on their website that they were “nonpartisan.” He alluded that they are not true to that statement. Our view is that this should not matter as long as the content of the Constitution has not been tampered with or altered from its original wording. Many educational textbooks, including those used by this School System, have had partisan drifts in either direction over the decades it has served to educate our students. Therefore, we believe this has no bearing on the Constitution’s content presented in the printed “Pocket Constitutions.”

The quotes the respected clergyman cited regarding the “Bible” are not opinions and are indeed factual when placed in the context of the era in which they were referenced. They present no religious bias as they do not impede, promote, or degrade the practice of any religion or doctrinal interpretation in the current time or the era of reference. Historically, it was the only “English Language” Bible available for production as previously ordered Bibles were blocked from delivery by the wartime state of our developing Nation. It is a matter of continental congress record, which makes it historically applicable.

I present you with links to his citations of concern.

  1. The Aitken Bible – https://theamericanbible.org/about.html. I refer you to an article for your comprehension of the Nation’s history related to the Aitken Bible.https://christianheritagefellowship.com/congress-purchases-and-endorses-the-bible/
  2. We refrain from refuting the validity of the respected clergyman’s claim in his second citation, as there are more appropriate educational resources for studying and teaching the Constitution regarding primary Constitutional education. However, it should be noted that “The Constitution Study” is not a study resource; instead, it is the name of a podcast the 917 Society links to in its resources page under that show title. It is a podcast that ranges in various topics concerning Constitutional issues, which is why a disclaimer statement is posted clearly on the podcast’s site. https://www.americaoutloud.news/the-constitution-study/

We would like to emphasize that none of the quotes presented by the respected clergyman exist directly in the printed media that was gifted to Harford County Public Schools and are only available under the resources section of The 917 Society Website https://www.917society.org/resources-original. We disagree with the relevance of the respected clergyman’s citations, as they are remote to the printed material gift. However, We can agree that It still can confuse our students. But only because, as community leaders, parents, and educators, we have all failed to fully educate all students, adult and child alike, on the Constitution and the era in which it was written. Or have allowed it to be skewed by altered historical precedents and agendas.

Arguing these aspects of remote content and debating about where these handouts were sourced from or by whom they were printed only wastes valuable time instead of correcting why they were needed in the first place. The reason is that the Constitution is not currently being adequately taught in completion to our students or adults, for that matter, within Harford County’s educational resources. It surpasses the public school arena. But it should be a priority of any educational institution of this nation to see that it is thoroughly taught and understood for its intended meaning and purposes, just as the proper functions of our government processes should be well instructed. Regardless of political affiliation views, this lack of complete education in the realms of Government and Constitution has set the stage for the abuses and improprieties so commonly discussed and argued in our modern time.

However, we agree with the respected clergyman that these pocket constitutions should not have had to be provided by an outside organization. This transaction only brings to light the educational deficiency of constitutional education by previous school board administrations in our county. We thank this organization for offering them and this board administration for at least accepting this gift and making it available to students in any form.

We wish to make the following very clear. The Maryland Black Robe Regiment wishes to be on record with this board that the views of the respective clergyman who addressed this board on September 11th, 2023, do not represent all Christian clergy within the Harford County region. Nor do we, as an organization, present that our position represents all clergy in the Harford County region.

We are also disturbed by some previous sessions over the last year and wish to be on record that it is inappropriate for any group or citizen, including myself and the organizations I represent or am affiliated with, to disparage, disrespect, or reference any organization or citizen that addresses this board with hostile intent or accusation within a public address to the board. This Board chamber is not a space for pushing political or ideological attacks. We encourage this board to be strict on direct attacks or disparaging remarks in public comment toward any person or organization in the presence of this honorable board, be it directly or indirectly or toward the Board itself. We believe these would be out of order in the court of law and should also be out of order during these proceedings.

The Board Chamber is a space of decorum and order. It is in the best interest of the children of this community and our potential future leaders. We need to remember that the purpose of the public school system is to educate, not drive political or social ideology.

Sometimes, history will be uncomfortable. Our World and National History are recorded to prevent us from repeating past mistakes made by those before us. Let’s not make the greatest historical mistake by diminishing the value of our nation’s founding documents, respect for our Nation, and right to opinion. We instead should be instilling their importance in every child and individual who calls this nation home.

I graciously thank you for your valuable time and consideration.

Rev. Steven D. Hofmeister

Chapter Lead

Maryland Black Robe Regiment

shofmeister@blackrobemd.org

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