Pastors to Beto: Quit 'weaponizing' government against religion
Vowed to remove tax-exempt status for opposing same-sex marriage https://www.wnd.com/2019/10/pastors-beto-quit-weaponizing-government-religion/
Within hours of Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke vowing that if elected, he would press to remove tax-exempt status from religious institutions that don't support same-sex marriage, Christian pastors and attorneys responded with a warning.
At a pro-LGBT town hall Thursday hosted by CNN, he was asked, "Do you think religious institutions like colleges, churches, charities – should they lose their tax exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?"
Without hesitation, O'Rourke said, "Yes."
One of the five Houston pastors whose sermons were subpoenaed by the mayor in defense of her pro-LGBT ordinance called for O'Rourke to back down.
"Beto has again shown his willingness to use the power of government to punish those who disagree with him, a standard practice of today's Democrat party, as well as displaying contempt and ignorance for the historic basis of tax exemption for churches and educational institutions," stated Rev. Dave Welch, a spokesman for the U.S. Pastor Council.
"The ominous trend toward weaponizing local, state and federal government to suppress beliefs, speech and religious practice that doesn’t conform to Beto and his allies’ Marxist ideology is more reflective of a totalitarian state than a free constitutional republic," Welch added.
O'Rourke asserted: "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."
Welch argued "there is simply no evidence that this class of people in this country identified as 'LGBTQ' are by law being denied access to the right to vote, the right to education or access to the economic system as our nation once tragically engaged in."
"The LGBTQ community by their own reports show a $1 trillion dollar buying power, equal to ethnic minorities many times their size," he said. "Where is the discrimination?"
He said that to single out "one issue that has become an idol to the godless socialism of the current Democrat party and attack the churches who will not compromise their historic biblical values of marriage as only the union of one man and one woman, is the height of tyranny and one more reason why pastors and churches across America must rise up and stand now against this onslaught of the Left."
Tax exemptions for churches, he pointed out, predate the United States by thousands of years.
"Tax exemption for churches dates back to ancient Israel, Greece and Rome. In our founding era, the Supreme Court’s decision in McCulloch v. Maryland in 1803 asserted the principle that ‘the power to tax is the power to destroy,’ and our nation has acknowledged the revered and separate autonomy of churches, hence the tax exemption,” Welch concluded.
Kelly Shackelford, the CEO and chief counsel First Liberty Institute, said his organization "has a long track record of defending churches, ministries, and faith-based organizations from legal threats like the one Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke just issued."
"O’Rourke threatened that he would strip churches of their tax-exempt status for simply following thousands of years of religious teaching doctrine. O’Rourke certainly isn’t the first to try such a stunt — First Liberty successfully defended a group of Texas churches and pastors in 2009 when their position on marriage and support of then-Governor Rick Perry drew the ire of the IRS.
"O’Rourke’s idea is not only legally wrong, it’s bad policy. According to a recent study, religion contributes and estimated $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy annually—more than Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft, combined. Beto O’Rourke’s threat is a direct affront to the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty. Should he, or any future 'resident, attempt to violate the Constitution in such a way, First Liberty will once again be first in the fight to defend religious freedom."