In anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, many conservatives worried that churches and other religious institutions could lose tax-exempt status under the new rules of the road. Some, like Senator Mike Lee of Utah, were so concerned that they backed legislation that would specifically prohibit such an outcome. But while many liberals have waved this fear away, at least one of them believes this is exactly what will – and should – happen now.
Mark Oppenheimer, writing in Time magazine, says that examining the tax exemption on churches is “long overdue.” A self-admitted “gay right supporter,” Oppenheimer argues that a 1983 Bob Jones University ruling permits the federal government to remove tax-exempt status from organizations that violate “fundamental national public policy.” This, he says, is reason enough to rethink the way the IRS treats churches and faith-based charities.
Rather than try to rescue tax-exempt status for organizations that dissent from settled public policy on matters of race or sexuality, we need to take a more radical step. It’s time to abolish, or greatly diminish, their tax-exempt statuses.
As Oppenheimer surely knows, huge numbers of churches, schools, and charities would have to shutter their doors if such a ruling came down. These organizations do enormous good in their communities, filling a charitable need when the government fails to provide for the common welfare of the poor. One can easily see why this would be on the liberal agenda, then. If they start eliminating private charities, it increases the need for government assistance. It’s such an obvious step towards the usual Democrat playbook that it makes you wonder if that’s not where all of this was leading from the very beginning.
Apparently having watched the HBO documentary on Scientology, Oppenheimer cites IRS exemptions for that controversial church as a signal that the whole system is a mess. And no doubt, it is. But the call for reform is a long way from a call for abolishing tax exemptions for religious institutions.
This is not about the tax code, of course. This is about a speech code. A belief code. Suddenly, it is no longer okay to be against gay marriage. How many times, since all of this went down, have you heard a liberal compare gay marriage and interracial marriage? They have determined – at once and without the slightest lack of conviction – that thousands of years of human civilization can be tossed aside like yesterday’s garbage. Even a dyed-in-the-wool atheist should be able to see the danger in that kind of arrogance.
From the beginning of this great nation, churches have served as one of our most important and enduring institutions. Our history is woven not with the homosexual agenda but with Christianity, church, and faith. Does that mean there is no room for improvement? That religion always gets it right? Of course not. But we should not be so quick to turn our backs on what has worked. Maybe – just maybe – it worked for a reason.