Buttigieg and Warren reject O’Rourke’s plan to tie church tax status to LGBT politics


Washington – A comment last week by candidate Beto O’Rourke that churches and faith-based institutions should lose their tax-exempt status if they do not support same-sex marriage drew criticism from two of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.

At least two other Democratic White House candidates rejected the former Texas congressman’s proposal, arguing that places of worship should retain their status regardless of their beliefs in the matter.

The question arose during O’Rourke’s appearance at last week’s LGBTQ Candidates Forum in Los Angeles. Asked by CNN host Don Lemon whether places of worship or church groups should lose their tax-exempt status if they don’t support same-sex marriage, O’Rourke said yes.

“There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for an institution or organization in America that denies all human and civil rights of all of us,” he said. declared Thursday 10 October.

In a Sunday appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was the first publicly reject O’Rourke’s proposal. Buttigieg said that while he supported anti-discrimination laws, he did not support reducing the tax-exempt status of religious institutions.

“I’m not sure (O’Rourke) understood the implications of what he was saying,” said Buttigieg, an Episcopalian married to a man. “It (political) means going to war not only against churches, but I think, with mosques and many organizations that maybe don’t have the same view of various religious principles as I do.

“So if we want to talk about an anti-discrimination law for a school or an organization, they should absolutely not be able to discriminate. But to attack the tax exemption of churches, Islamic centers or other religious establishments in this. country, I think this will only deepen the divisions we are already experiencing. “

Buttigieg added that the proposal also seemed ill-timed, given that it had been suggested “at a time when we are seeing more and more people, often motivated by compassion and by people they love, moving forward in the process. good direction on LGBTQ rights, which is obviously extremely important to me personally. “

In a statement to Religion News Service on Sunday, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign also rebuffed O’Rourke’s remark.

“American religious institutions have long been free to determine their own beliefs and practices,” the statement said, “and she doesn’t think we should force them to perform same-sex marriages in order to maintain their tax-exempt status.”

The statement added: “Elizabeth will stand alongside the LGBTQ + community until every person is empowered and able to live their lives free from fear of discrimination and violence.”

O’rourke discussed his proposal further on MSNBC Sunday night, appearing to modify his initial remarks by stating that “the way you practice your religion or your faith in this mosque or temple, synagogue or church – it’s yours. business, not government business. “

But O’Rourke stressed that his proposal still applies to religious institutions that provide services, arguing that while religious people “are free to practice (their) faith as they see fit,” American citizens “will not. are not allowed to discriminate against people in this country. “

He also argued that there was precedent for his idea, pointing out that Bob Jones University had its tax-exempt status revoked in the 1970s by the Internal Revenue Service – a move supported by a ruling from the Supreme Court of 1983 – for denying equality of treatment and registration to Africans. Americans.

Warren and Buttigieg have both discussed the importance of faith in their own lives in recent days. Warren, a Methodist, sang a line from the children’s hymn “Jesus Loves Little Children” when it appeared at a recent LGBT issues forum, saying the song’s message embodies a focused faith on “the value of every life” – including LGBTQ people.

Buttigieg, for his part, told the forum that when religion is used to oppress people, it “makes God smaller”.

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