Here We Go: Beto O’Rourke Says Churches and Other Religious Organizations Should Lose Tax-Exempt Status for Opposing Same-sex Marriage

Beto O’Rourke takes part in a televised town hall on LGBTQ issues in Los Angeles, Calif. October 10, 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Former Texas representative and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said Thursday that churches, charities and other religious institutions that oppose same-sex marriage should lose their tax exempt status. 

And if he becomes president, this is a policy that he will seek to quickly enforce by executive action, according to the LGBTQ plan on his website.

“Despite the progress we’ve made, members of the LGBTQ+ community are denied lives free of fear or discrimination. President Trump’s administration has made it their mission to roll back protections for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender Americans, defying their constitutional guarantee of Equal Protection. Beto will take immediate executive action to end the assault on LGBTQ+ rights and enact policies that conform to our laws and values,” his plan says.

At CNN’s Equality Townhall, news opinion host Don Lemon asked O’Rourke: “Do you think religious institutions like colleges, churches and charities should lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same sex marriage?”

“Yes,” O’Rourke replied. “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us. And so as president, we’re going to make that a priority and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”

In his plan for religious exemptions, O’Rourke in his agenda for the LGBTQ community notes that he will reverse President Donald Trump’s “attempt to expand religious exemptions in order to enable discrimination or harm others.”

In a thread on Twitter Thursday, Denny Burk, associate professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, who also serves as associate pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, said O’Rourke’s proposal was a “draconian assault on the First Amendment” and warned that it could “bankrupt many churches.”

“Beto O’Rourke calls for Christian churches to lose their tax-exempt status unless they endorse gay marriage. This draconian assault on the First Amendment is now the MAINSTREAM view within the Democratic Party,” Burk began. “This could bankrupt many churches and religious institutions because it would dissuade contributions. Many churches would lose their property as a result of being unable to pay property taxes —especially in big cities. This is truly draconian and unconstitutional.”

Burk also said that the notion of taxing churches and other religious institutions as an official government policy might not be limited to the Democrats.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair