Seminaries Urge Tax-Exemption Ahead of Supreme Court Decision on Marriage

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Southern Baptist educational leaders are among 74 signatories to a June 3 letter urging Congress to pass a bill protecting the tax-exempt status of schools in the event the U.S. Supreme Court approves same-sex marriage as a civil right.

If the Court establishes gay marriage as the law of the land, educators are concerned there may be legal precedent to withdraw tax-exempt status to schools that uphold the biblical truth that marriage is between one man and one woman.

“It is out of concern that schools adhering to traditional religious and moral values could lose tax-exempt status that we urge support for the Government Non-Discrimination Act, which would ensure that the federal government cannot discriminate or take action against private entities because they act in accordance with a moral or religious belief that marriage is between a man and a woman,” the letter reads. “This bill, introduced in the 113th Congress with more than 100 House and Senate cosponsors and which will be introduced soon in the 114th Congress, would protect against government discrimination of those who believe in natural marriage.”

Christian educators are concerned after an April 28 exchange at the U.S. Supreme Court between Associate Justice Samuel Alito and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli during oral arguments in a key gay marriage case. Alito cited a 1983 decision in which the Supreme Court upheld the Internal Revenue Service’s revocation of a tax exemption for Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist Christian school in Greenville, S.C., because the school prohibited interracial dating and marriage.

“So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?” Alito asked Verrilli, who said he would need more information to give a concrete answer, but admitted, “It’s certainly going to be an issue.”

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has observed that Verrilli “did not say no,” the letter notes. “Instead, he said that the federal government, at present, does not have a law banning discrimination in such matters on the basis of sexual orientation.”

If the Supreme Court approves gay marriage, “Christian institutions that offer student or constituent housing could be mandated to provide such to same-sex couples,” the letter reads. “Additionally, even if there is no sexual orientation law, it is difficult to see how educational institutions that recognize marriage in their housing, for instance, will not be required to recognize same-sex marriage benefits as well if the Court redefines marriage.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Diana Chandler

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