After a recent CNN Town Hall meeting, @CNN reported:
“Beto O’Rourke on religious institutions losing tax-exempt status for opposing same-sex marriage: ‘There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone … that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us’”
Although Beto was pretty clear, let me make it even clearer. He is saying that he believes that any religious organization that opposes gay marriage should lose its tax-exempt status.
I take exception with Beto’s premises. As a Christian, and as a pastor of an evangelical Bible-believing church, I am opposed to gay marriage. The Bible teaches against homosexuality, and I follow that teaching. But Beto’s conclusion is that, since I oppose gay marriage, I must be in favor of denying the human and civil rights of those in the gay and lesbian community. Is he saying that speaking against gay marriage is somehow denying someone’s human rights or their civil rights? If someone speaks out against Christianity, are they denying my human rights or my civil rights? No! It is called “free speech,” and it is protected by our Constitution.
Let’s be clear. The gay and lesbian community has won the battle over same-sex marriage. Am I somehow denying them their human rights or civil rights by speaking out against what I consider an immoral lifestyle? Of course not! IMHO, the ultimate objective of the extreme people in the gay and lesbian community (and I’m not saying at all that everyone in that community is an extremist) is not only to secure gay marriage. They also want to silence any opposition to it. And ultimately, they want to force those who disagree with their lifestyle to never speak against it, or to be penalized (i.e. lose their tax-exempt status).
I’ll at least give Beto credit for clearly stating his belief system. In response to Beto’s statement, Pete Buttigeig said,
“I agree that anti-discrimination law ought to be applied to all institutions. But the idea that you’re going to strip churches of their tax exempt status if they haven’t found their way towards blessing same-sex marriage, I’m not sure [O’Rourke] understood the implications of what he was saying,”
This is classic double-talk. On the one hand, Mayor Pete seems to be saying that he is NOT in favor of taking away a religious organization’s tax-exempt status if they speak against same-sex marriage. But he also said, “I agree that anti-discrimination law ought to be applied to all institutions.” But he doesn’t answer the question, “HOW should anti-discrimination laws be applied?” I suspect that Mayor Pete has pretty much the same view as Beto on this matter. Buttigeig is just politically astute enough to mask it. No wonder he is ahead of Beto in the polls!
One last thought. The church I pastor, Infinity Bible Church, has tax exempt status. But frankly I am tired of being treated like we are getting some kind of “government windfall” because of this. Yes, if a for-profit business were in our building, NYC would receive around $15,000-$20,000 in property taxes and water usage that it is presently not receiving. But to get the full picture you must look deeper. And for the sake of this discussion, let’s put our doctrine aside and just talk about our church’s “good deeds.” Our church provides an excellent after-school program for 40+ children every school day. Our church gives away tons and tons of food in our food pantry each month. Our church is helping at-risk young people get on the right path and make something out of their lives. We are helping young men and women start careers and get into colleges. And we give scholarships to help with this. The government gives us NOTHING for this, and that’s OK. We raise the money ourselves through generous individuals and private organizations. And we are happy to do it. I do, however, get insulted by those who imply that we are a drain on the City because we don’t pay property taxes. Yes, we get perhaps a $20,000 annual tax break from the city. But we provide for the city, FREE OF CHARGE, literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in services to our needy neighborhood. We are a not a liability. We are an asset!
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