Supreme Court Ruling Opens Door For Attacks on Religious Tax Exempt Status
Pastor Robert Jeffress, the head of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, told the “Todd Starnes Radio Show” on Monday that the Supreme Court’s ruling on LGBTQ rights was an “absolutely devastating decision with chilling implications” for religious freedom.
The Supreme Court—in a 6-to-3 ruling—said Title VII in the 1964 Civil Rights Act includes gay and transgender workers. Faith-based employers, like schools, are now concerned about their ability to continue to practice and defend their religious freedom. Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch, 52, who replaced conservative icon Justice Antonin Scalia, helped pave the way for the ruling.
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“I don’t know of any conservative Christian who believes that somebody’s constitutional right ought to be negated because of their sexual choices,” Jeffress said. “However, what this decision does is open the doors for churches and religious organizations to lose their tax-exempt status for not hiring people who embrace the lifestyle contrary to that institution’s belief.”
He said that the Supreme Court ruling is a threat to faith-based businesses and churches and brings the country one step closer to the government determining what can and cannot be taught in places of worship.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out,” he said. “This is going to be the basis for the government to negate the tax-exempt status for religious organizations unless they fall in lockstep with government beliefs.”
Todd Starnes, the host of the radio show, said, “In other words, it is now open season on church houses in America.”
Churches across the U.S. have found themselves in clashes with local and state governments over coronavirus lockdowns after politicians ruled that they were considered in the same category of “non-essential” businesses. Church leaders said these guidelines unfairly targeted places of worship and infringed on their First Amendment rights.
Gorsuch, who wrote the opinion for the court’s majority, said, “In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”
Starnes said watching a conservative judge shift to the left after being sworn in is not a new phenomenon.
“These judges that Republicans put on the bench look conservative, they sound conservative and yet they turn around and they stick it to you,” he said.