Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is pushing back on Beto O’Rourke’s suggestion that churches should be stripped of their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage.
“I agree that anti-discrimination law ought to be applied to all institutions,” Buttigieg, who is gay, said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “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.”
O’Rourke, another Democratic party presidential candidate, was asked during a town hall last week if he thought religious institutions such as colleges, churches and charities should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage.
“Yes,” O’Rourke said. “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. So as president, we’re going to make that a priority and we’re going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”
Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., said O’Rourke’s proposal would have a negative effect on the nation.
“That means going to war not only with churches, but I would think with mosques and a lot of organizations that may not have the same view of various religious principles that I do,” Buttigieg said. “But also because of the separation of church and state are acknowledged as nonprofits in this country."
Still, Buttigieg said schools and religious organizations should be required to follow all anti-discrimination laws. But “going after the tax exemption of churches, Islamic centers or other religious facilities in this county” would only “deepen the divisions that we’re already experiencing,” Buttigieg said.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Scott Eisen/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.