Religious University Tax Exempt

The Supreme Court is reviewing a case that can impact far more than the same-sex marriage it deals with, including the tax status of religious colleges.

The ongoing battle about same-sex marriage in the United States is sparking new concerns over religious liberty. The Obama administration’s top lawyer Donald Verrilli has said that if the Supreme Court redefines marriage, religious college  and universities could lose their tax-exempt status.

Solicitor General Verrilli gave his statement on April 28, when he replied to a question by Justice Samuel Alito during Supreme Court arguments over the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. Justice Alito asked if religious colleges and universities that continue to advocate for traditional marriage might be in danger of losing their tax-exempt status.  Solicitor General Verrilli did not deny that it could.

When Justice Alito asked if a religious university could lose its tax exempt status, Verrilli replied, “it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito.  It is­­ it is going to be an issue.” His statement did not go unnoticed by American religious freedom advocates.

Travis Weber, director of the Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty, said that the government’s position would extend to churches at same point, to public employees and to anyone holding a traditional view of marriage. “It would force them to compromise their views on that, and compromise their religious conviction and if they don’t’ compromise, this oppressive view could threat them with fines.”

The White House has declined to comment on Solicitor General Verrilli’s statement. The IRS didn’t respond either. The religious community’s concerns are fuelled by the fear that the IRS has come up with some kind of agreement with the Freedom From Religious Foundation. It was about to sue the tax agency over a legal document which showed that at least 99 churches had been under scrutiny for political activities.

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