Why might this be an important question?
Consider what one person calls a “principle” yet another asserts is “bigotry” in light of the dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges authored by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts:
Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise
religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the
new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example,
a religious college provides married student housing
only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious
adoption agency declines to place children with
same-sex married couples. There is little doubt that
these and similar questions will soon be before this
The Church’s teaching concerning homosexuality and marriage are clear, with the principles of both rooted firmly in the natural law. Those who disagree with this teaching do so for a variety of other principles. But, in contrast to the Church which calls for its members to love those who dissent from its teachings, some of those dissenters assert that the Church and those who support its teaching are bigoted, not principled.
If that claim—that the Church and those who support its teaching, in the workplace by denying certain benefits to homosexual couples, for example—is judged to be meritorious, the Church and other religious traditions who support Church teaching might lose their tax-exempt status.
That could be the cost exacted by the Internal Revenue Service for those religious institutions whose leaders choose to uphold the traditional understanding of marriage rather than acquiesce to the nation’s new public policy concerning marriage. Forget being labeled pariahs and becoming objects of discrimination themselves, $$$s count. How long could those religious institutions continue to operate as “for profit” ventures?
One institution that did is Bob Jones University (BJU) which, in 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the IRS in stripping BJU of its tax-exempt status for banning interracial romantic relationships on campus.
What BJU administrators claimed was a religious principle was determined to be bigotry, namely, racial discrimination which is contrary to national public policy.
With Obergefell et al. v. Hodges now settled, will Catholic institutions, in particular, those which uphold Church teaching concerning homosexuality and marriage, be challenged for asserting as principle what its opponents call bigotry? And, if so, will the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately have to rule in this regard?
Professor of Law and Religion at George Washington University, Robert Tuttle, doesn’t think so. He said:
In terms of punishing religious institutions for
discriminatory conduct, the IRS has done this exactly
one time. And the IRS has never even made a move
to revoke the tax exemptions of an institution because
of its attitude toward gender equality.
Who’s to know? Compromises are currently being worked out at the state level that provide full protections under the law to LGBTs while at the same time exempting religions institutions from these laws, either in the statute itself or through a “religious freedom restoration act.”
Professor of Law and Director of the Institute for Higher Education Law & Governance at the University of Houston, Michael Olivas, observes:
To be sure, it’s going to take a while for the
state and local and federal protections to be
extended—all of which in part turned on prohibitions
on same-sex marriage. But I think that over time,
they will accrete and they will grow and develop,
and I think that schools still resisting acceptance
at the very least are going to have to question
what is principle and what is bigotry.
If the principle is a true principle—racism is not—how can one who holds that principle be bigoted? Equating Church teaching concerning homosexuality and marriage with racism, for example, is a clever ruse…one that’s aimed at confusing matters for those who aren’t thinking clearly.
Let the discussion begin…
To read the article in the Christian Science Monitor, click on the following link: