How the Federal Government May Put Christian Schools Out of Business
By Joe Carter
With seven words—“It is going to be an issue”—the U.S. government signaled to orthodox Christian colleges and universities that if they don’t drop their opposition to same-sex marriage they will lose their tax exempt status.
Those words came yesterday when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case concerning whether the Fourteenth Amendment’s must guarantee the right for same-sex couples to marry. While the primary issue is whether gay marriage will be required in every state in the union, one exchange highlighted how the upcoming ruling could affect religious liberty. Justice Samuel Alito asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli how it would affect educational institution that opposed same-sex marriage:
JUSTICE ALITO: Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?In the case of Bob Jones University (Bob Jones University v. United States (1983)), the Supreme Court ruled that the religion clauses of the First Amendment did not prohibit the IRS from revoking the tax exempt status of a religious university whose practices are contrary to a compelling government public policy.
GENERAL VERRILLI: You know, I…I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I…I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is … it is going to be an issue.
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