Southern Baptist Seminary Leaders Concerned Supreme Court Marriage Decision Could Threaten Their Schools

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Southern Baptist seminary leaders are among those expressing concern at the U.S. solicitor general’s admission that nationwide legalization of gay marriage could lead to the removal of tax-exempt status from religious institutions that stand for traditional marriage.

Also expressing concern are the National Religious Broadcasters and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

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Todd Linn, chairman of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of trustees, told Baptist Press the “prospect of legalizing gay marriage across the nation raises a host of questions and concerns for religious institutions and conservative evangelical seminaries such as SEBTS.”

The concerns of Linn and others stem from an exchange at the U.S. Supreme Court April 28 between Associate Justice Samuel Alito and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli during oral arguments for the case which could result in nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage.

In response to the federal government’s argument that gay marriage should be declared a constitutional right, Alito asked Verrilli about institutions that refuse to permit gay marriage, citing a 1983 decision in which the Supreme Court upheld the Internal Revenue Service’s revocation of a tax exemption for Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist Christian school in Greenville, S.C.

The court “held that a college was not entitled to tax-exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating,” Alito said. “So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?”

Verrilli responded, “You know, I — I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I — I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is — it is going to be an issue.”

Verrilli, Linn said in written comments to BP, “opened the door to a number of other possible concerns. One can only imagine how legalizing same-sex marriage might also affect religious freedoms relating to admissions or hiring and firing.

“While many aspects of this issue remain unclear at the present, the seminary will be closely following all court cases and legislation that may impact the institution,” said Linn, pastor of First Baptist Church in Henderson, Ky.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
David Roach

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