Beto’s Blatant Call to Establish a State-Approved Religion
Would someone please remind Beto O’Rourke we have a Constitution in this country? And that if he gets elected president, he’ll be sworn to uphold it? He says we should strip churches of tax-exempt status if they don’t support gay marriage. That’s as blatant an attempt to establish a State-approved religion as you’ll ever see.
It’s the same thing I wrote about last week: The left really wants to meddle in Christian doctrine, where the state has no business interfering. For all the debate over what chuch-state separation means, this much should be easy. Government doesn’t define Christian doctrine. It doesn’t get to decide what counts as a real Christian church.
The same is true for other religions, naturally. It’s never been up for question except where people have invented new, fringe religions. But again, for all the dispute over whether this religion or that gets included under the First Amendment, there’s no doubt the Framers had Christianity in mind. They clearly intended the state to keep its nose out of Christian doctrinal debates.
The Left Can’t Say It Happened With “Racism”
Someone might bring up Bob Jones University, where the government almost stripped the school of tax-exempt status until it gave up its racist policies. Is this like that? No. Man-woman marriage is woven deep in the Bible and in Christian practice, and it has been for centuries. But racism was a novel, convenient interpretation “found” in obscure passages, by people who wanted biblical justification for wrongdoing. Therefore it’s not truly Christianity, and it’s certainly opposed to societal interests. So the state’s action there may well be justified.
Some might also say Christianity actually supports homosexuality, if you understand it rightly. But that’s an internal debate among Christians — precisely what the state should keep hands off of. And support for man-woman marriage truly is a Christian position, which is all the state needs to know about it. For this “affirming position” is also a novel, convenient interpretation “found” by obscure means, by people who want biblical justification for wrongdoing.
That’s a strong statement, I know. I’ll gladly defend it against other Christians, for I think the Bible and Church history support it. Why, though, should any church have to defend any standard belief at all against threats from the state?
Punishing Churches That Don’t Align with State-Imposed Doctrine
Is this not clear enough? Let me spell it out another way. Beto affirms the policy of granting churches tax exemptions. He only opposes tax exemptions for churches whose marriage doctrine differs from the State’s. Dissenters must pay. If some churches have to shutter their doors as a result, then fine. It’s a new punishment based on new State-imposed doctrine, for when the First Amendment was ratified, every church in the nation believed marriage was for man and woman.
If this isn’t an outrageous violation of religious freedom, I can’t imagine what is.
Not that it’s entirely new. Hillary had something similar going a few years back, while running for president. She told the Women in the World Summit, “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”
This kind of language is a direct attack on the Constitution. Beto has made it clear that he doesn’t care what it says, though. Not in the First Amendment, certainly. (He’s done the same with the Second, too, but that’s another column.)
If he had any integrity he’d pull out of the race right now. For he should know that if he takes an oath to uphold the Constitution, he’ll have to do it with his fingers crossed behind his back.
Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream, and the author of A Christian Mind: Thoughts on Life and Truth in Jesus Christ and Critical Conversations: A Christian Parent’s Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens, and the lead editor of True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism.