We needn't endorse in order to 'accept'

 

There's a difference between asking for acceptance and forcing endorsement. The U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling on same-sex marriage says states may not deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples who want them.

It does not say that every American individual and institution must now endorse same-sex marriage.

That appears to be the next step for some gay activists. And it's wrong.

Time magazine has a story titled "Now's the time to end tax exemptions for religious institutions."

"The Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage makes it clearer than ever that the government shouldn't be subsidizing religion and nonprofits," writes Time's Mark Oppenheimer. "Two weeks ago, with a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges on the way, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah introduced the First Amendment Defense Act, which ensures that religious institutions won't lose their tax exemptions if they don't support same-sex marriage."

To be sure, Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion "that religious organizations and persons (will be) given proper protection."

But that's pretty vague; what is "proper protection," and might that change over time?

For Oppenheimer, there's a simple solution. Strip all churches and other "dissenting" nonprofits of their tax-exempt status.

There's a fundamental mistake here. Oppenheimer sees tax exemption as "subsidizing religion and non-profits."

That's only true if all money belongs to the government to begin with. It doesn't. To tax is to take — not take back.

Oppenheimer makes another such mistake.

"Defenders of tax exemptions and deductions argue that if we got rid of them charitable giving would drop," he writes. "It surely would, although how much, we can't say. But of course government revenue would go up, and that money could be used to, say, house the homeless and feed the hungry. We'd have fewer church soup kitchens — but countries that truly care about poverty don't rely on churches to run soup kitchens."

That's exactly backwards. Certainly there's a role for government in providing a social safety net. But the backbone of charitable efforts is individual giving, often through churches and other non-profits. It's not "caring about poverty" if you only address it with other people's money.

From a historical perspective, countries with the lowest level of church-based compassion efforts and maximum government control have been the Soviet Union and China — where millions starved.

But the real point of the Time article is to push the idea that certain churches ought to be forced into the fold of acquiescence — or be punished for their obstinacy.

"The logic of gay-marriage rights could lead to a reexamination of conservative churches' tax exemptions," Oppenheimer writes.

This isn't unexpected. Justice Samuel Alito warned in his dissent that "today's decision … will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy."

There's irony here. The rainbow flag that adorned so many websites and rallies in the hours after the Supreme Court ruling stands for diversity — for acceptance of all faiths, beliefs and opinions.

Demanding others abandon their beliefs and endorse yours isn't diversity. It's "social justice" tyranny.

 
 

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