Phyllis Mundy responds concerning Pennsylvania House Bill 922

Rep. Phyllis Mundy
120th Legislative District
Pennsylvania

Last month, I wrote about Pennsylvania’s House Bill 922 sponsored by Rep. Tim Krieger (and co-sponsored by 28 other representatives) which seeks to remove anonymity from individuals who file church/state complaints. I stated reasons why I oppose House Bill 922 and took action by encouraging other writers to share the story. I also contacted Phyllis Mundy – the woman representing the legislative district in which I live.

I wrote the following letter to Rep. Mundy,

I am writing you to voice my opposition to House Bill 922 recently proposed by Rep. Tim Krieger of the 57th district and encourage you to similarly oppose this legislation. House Bill 922 seeks to remove the anonymity from litigants who engage in legal action to defend the cherished principle of separation of church and state in Pennsylvania.

If this bill passes, litigants may no longer use pseudonyms or remain anonymous while represented by organizations which depend the principle of church/state separation. This house bill would make it more difficult for individuals — many of whom wish to remain anonymous — for legally challenge violations of the Establishment Clause when simple redresses through letters to government officials are not enough and lawsuits are necessary.

Pennsylvanians should be able to practice religion or no religion according to the dictates of their own conscious as the PA state constitution guarantees. Individuals who wish for the government to be uninvolved with religion, remaining neutral, should not have a more difficult time pursing litigation.

People wish to remain anonymous for good reasons – because they fear retaliation from their local communities and because it is not uncommon for individuals pursuing church/state issues to receive threats and a deluge of hate mail. Please oppose House Bill 922 and do not vote for this legislation if it comes to a vote. Thank you.

…and received a response,

Thank you for your email in opposition to House Bill 922.  I appreciate your bringing this issue to my attention.

I understand your concerns regarding HB 922, which would require that, in any lawsuit seeking to inhibit the display or use of religious symbols in public locations, the party bringing the claim would not be allowed to proceed anonymously unless that party can show he or she would suffer serious physical harm otherwise. 

HB 922 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee on March 11, 2013.  Should the bill be passed out of committee and reach the House floor for a vote, please be assured I will closely review the implications of it and keep your thoughts close in mind.

Thanks again for contacting me.  Should you have any further state-related questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me again.

According to Mundy’s response, the bill has not yet been voted on. Hopefully my position on House Bill 922 — and those of other likeminded proponents of church/state separation – will lead to, if the bill comes to a vote, this bill being rejected. Fellow Pennsylvanians (and even those outside Pennsylvania) ought to share their concerns with Pennsylvania House of Representatives members and hopefully make a difference. You can make a difference.

What do you think of Mundy’s response? Share your thoughts below.