February 25, 2020
Buttigieg: Tax the Bible-Believers!

Buttigieg: Tax the Bible-Believers!

Tony Perkins

Pete Buttigieg has spent 10 months trying to run as a Christian for president. Granted, it's been a heavy lift for an infanticide supporter with a same-sex husband. But after Monday, it should be downright impossible after the former mayor announced his contempt for something all of America values: religious freedom.

The man who loves to quote Scripture to support his unorthodox views will have a tough time finding one to support his latest target -- the First Amendment. But then, Mayor Pete has never let a little thing like biblical integrity get in the way of distorting Christianity. When a woman asked Buttigieg how he would handle the debate over things like faith-based adoption, he replied it was simple. He'd just cut religious groups out of the process. And not just out of the process, but out of government altogether. Religious freedom, he insisted, "ends" where the LGBT agenda begins.

"I believe that federal funding should never be used to discriminate," he said. "It is a basic principle... I feel this way both as a citizen and as a person of faith. Of course, it is so important to the fabric of this country that people of every religion and of no religion can practice their faith to the best of their conscience. But like any other freedom, that freedom ends [when] you begin to invoke it to harm other people. Just as the freedom of speech, or any other freedom, is constrained by that. We all treasure our freedom of speech. But nobody here has the freedom to yell 'Fire!' in this crowded space. It is the same way with religious liberty..."

Moderator Don Lemon seemed a little taken aback. "Just to be clear," he clarified, "do you believe that other religious and nonprofit institutions like colleges and homeless charities should lose their federal funding if they refuse to hire or serve LGBTQ people?" Buttigieg didn't even hesitate. "Yes. If they are discriminating, then they should not be doing it with federal dollars."

To be clear, Buttigieg is talking about a lot more than elbowing Catholic Charities out of foster care. He's suggesting ending the tax-exempt status for churches and religious groups all together -- a far more aggressive and hostile approach than most liberals are willing to admit out loud. Beto O'Rourke tried the idea back in October, and it practically sunk his candidacy. "There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone, or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us," the Texan had argued. Ironically, Mayor Pete pushed back then -- still trying to paint himself as the moderate we all know now he's not. "That means not only going to war with churches, but also with mosques and a lot of organizations that may not have the same view of various religious principles that I do," he countered.

Now, just five months later, going to war with churches and organizations seems to be exactly what Pete has in mind. And while the mayor feigned outrage last fall, the reality is: this isn't exactly new territory for liberals. President Obama's solicitor general told Justice Samuel Alito in 2015 that Christian institutions could lose their tax-exempt status for holding biblical views in a post-Obergefell world. "It's certainly going to be an issue," Donald Verrilli admitted. "I don't deny that. I don't deny that, Justice Alito. It is -- it is going to be an issue." And a campaign one at that.

Pete is only giving voice to a deeply-held view in the Democratic Party -- which is that tolerance is a one-way street. And the only way to maintain it is if Christians, conservatives, and orthodox faiths are forced to put their beliefs in park. There's just one problem: it's the very definition of unconstitutional. "To even try to compare sincere and widely-accepted religious beliefs to socially disruptive behavior like yelling 'Fire!' in a crowded theater is not only misinformed," FRC's Travis Weber argued, "but insulting to the millions of Americans who hold these beliefs, and just want to be left alone to live them out in peace."

Despite the smear campaign underway by the liberal media and candidates, faith-based groups aren't harming anyone. On the contrary, they're the reason hundreds of thousands of people in this country have food in their stomachs and roofs over their heads. They serve the needy regardless of who they are with everything from free counseling and health care to legal aid. The fact that they try to find the most stable homes for adoptive kids -- which, research tells us, is with a married mom and dad -- shouldn't be insulting. It's encouraging that they care enough about these children to put them in the best possible position for success. They aren't telling other organizations how to run their adoption agencies -- or taking away options for same-sex couples. They're just saying they shouldn't have to surrender their biblical beliefs to provide a social service to their neighbor. And for that, this Democrat thinks they should be treated like pariahs in the public square.

Fortunately for everyone, Pete's word won't be the last one. The Supreme Court is making sure of that, announcing Monday that the justices will hear Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a hugely important faith-based adoption case. And thanks to Donald Trump, two men who understand the constitutional importance of religious liberty -- Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch -- will be on the bench when they do. No city can tie a government partnership to the "surrender of constitutional rights." And no presidential candidate, for that matter, should either.