Laurie Goodstein and Adam Liptak reporting for the New York Times speak of the legitimate worry religious schools like BYU have for their tax-exempt status should the Supreme Court favor gay marriage.
Conservative religious schools all over the country forbid same-sex relationships, from dating to couples’ living in married-student housing, and they fear they will soon be forced to make a wrenching choice. If the Supreme Court this month finds a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, the schools say they will have to abandon their policies that prohibit gay relationships or eventually risk losing their tax-exempt status.
The religious schools are concerned that if they continue to ban gay relationships, the Internal Revenue Service could take away their tax-exempt status as a violation of a “fundamental national public policy” under the reasoning of a 1983 Supreme Court decision that allowed the agency to revoke the tax-exempt status of schools that banned interracial relationships.
In a recent letter to congressional leaders, officials from more than 70 schools, including Catholic high schools and evangelical colleges, said that a Supreme Court ruling approving same-sex marriage would put at risk all schools “adhering to traditional religious and moral values.”
The article also notes:
Rick Scarborough, the founder and president of Vision America, a conservative Christian organization based in Nacogdoches, Tex., said he had never seen pastors so angry and ready to resist a Supreme Court ruling. He said 50,000 pastors and church members had signed a petition to the Supreme Court justices warning that they would consider a law recognizing same-sex marriage an “unjust law.”
BYU is mentioned specifically as an example of a school that could find itself at risk.
Brigham Young University’s honor code, for instance, bans “homosexual behavior,” including “not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”
In a supporting brief in the pending Supreme Court case, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said “it would seem a short step” from a decision in favor of same-sex marriage to the loss of tax exemptions for dissenting religious institutions.
Read the article here.