Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Nondiscrimination" and Tax-Exempt Status

We at the CLS Center believe that the application of religion and sexual orientation nondiscrimination rules to religious organizations is the greatest threat to religious freedom in America today. It appears as though many homosexual rights advocates want the law to treat those who hold traditional views on human sexuality the same way the law treats racists. The race analogy inevitably brings to mind the Supreme Court's decision in Bob Jones University, in which the Court upheld the IRS's decision to revoke the tax-exempt status of the university because of its policy forbidding interracial dating. If the race analogy is taken to its logical extreme, religious institutions that reserve the right to take homosexual conduct into account in the personnel decisions would lose their tax-exempt status.

More evidence that this is not just a paranoid fantasy: Widener law professor Nicholas Mirkay is publishing a second article urging the denial of tax-exempt status to religious entities that "discriminate" on the basis of sexual orientation or marital status.

This is why the pending cases pitting religious associational freedom against certain nondiscrimination rules are so important. If these cases are decided correctly, there will be clearer constitutional protection from those that want to punish religious groups for holding traditional views on human sexuality.

HT: Walter Weber of ACLJ.