“It is Going to Be an Issue” — Supreme Court Argument on Same-Sex Marriage Puts Religious Liberty in the Crosshairs

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Jim's picture

Churches Brace for Same-Sex Marriage Ruling - Religious groups that oppose gay unions re-emphasize teachings, fine-tune their message

A court ruling expected two months from now could sanction same-sex marriage nationwide. In anticipation, some congregations and religious advocacy groups are re-emphasizing their teachings on marriage, fine-tuning their approach to gays and lesbians and bracing for legal battles and public criticism.

“The outcome of this decision will shape the landscape of the church’s ministry in the U.S. for generations to come,” wrote Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. In an interview, he added, “If we have a redefinition of marriage across the board by judicial decree then the church will have a responsibility more than ever to articulate what marriage is in the first place.”

DavidO's picture

Odd to me that in the same breath Mohler condemns the BJU policy but says "Oh, no, now its going to happen to us . . ."

The BJU policy was wrong, period.  But, if it was a sincerely held religious conviction, and I believe it was (apologetic handwaving on TV by a former institution president notwithstanding), where were Mohler and Russell Moore when BJU was under fire for this.  (OK, Moore was probably in high school, but you get my point.)

I'm not at all certain we can have it one way and not the other.   

SBashoor's picture

I think Mohler's point is that the BJU position was a biblically unjustifiable and culturally embarrassing escapade that led to an unfortunate and dangerous legal precedent. It doesn't mean that the "federal public policy" precedent that SCOTUS made then would not have played out in court at some other time, but the precedent being established for 30 plus years now has pushed religious institutions toward the edge of potential legal trouble much more quickly than it might have otherwise.

When I was at BJU, the issue of the case's precedent was repeatedly lamented (though the institutional position that led to the court case was not).

M. Scott Bashoor Happy Slave of Christ

Bert Perry's picture

I actually think it's probably good to force religious institutions to be more forthright about what they believe.  too many have been coasting for too long.

That noted, one historic reason for property tax exemptions for religious institutions is that the property tax allows counties and cities to tax religious institutions far above their actual value--a dirty way of putting them out of business, really.  I would anticipate, legally speaking that someone will make the argument that the property tax exemption is therefore more or less required by the 1st Amendment as a protection for religious liberty.  

Sales tax, not so much--you simply put it in the other categories and tax as everyone else pays, which makes sense to me, actually.  But property tax is a big deal.  And it would be interesting to contemplate the government trying to exempt one set of entities while taxing another.  

Might not matter, though.  With eighteen trillion in official debt and one hundred trillion or so more in unfunded liabilities, government may be in a pretty big pickle and might not have the energy to pick on us in the future.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ron Bean's picture

When the Supreme Court was discussing the gay marriage issue this week, reference was made to the Bob Jones University court case and the probabilitythat religious institutions that object to "public policy" like gay marriage or, in BJU's case, interracial dating, would be allowed to practice their beliefs but would lose their tax exemption.

IMO, that's where this who thing will wind up. Churches will be able to freely practice what the public considers discrimination but will lose their tax exemptions.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Mark_Smith's picture

that anything that isn't explicitly a church, like your business, a school, day care center, everything like that, will have to follow the non-discrimination laws.