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Supporting Marriage Could Cost Tax-Exempt Status


Ryan Anderson has quickly become my favorite advocate for the traditional, natural (and moral) law concept of marriage. His ability to articulate common sense points persuasively and with confidence cuts through a lot of rhetorical nonsense.

Anderson was at the Supreme Court yesterday, where oral arguments were heard in an attempt to determine whether there is a constitutional “right” to same-sex “marriage.” While there, he heard something upsetting, but not altogether surprising:

Is the Obama administration about to wage war on religious schools?

One of the more startling portions of oral arguments today at the Supreme Court was the willingness of the Obama administration’s Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, to admit that religious schools that affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman may lose their non-profit tax-exempt status if marriage is redefined.

Justice Samuel Alito asked Verrilli whether a religious school that believed marriage was the union of husband and wife would lose their non-profit tax status.

The solicitor general answered: “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.”

This should not be an issue. Citizens and organizations that continue to believe the truth about marriage should not be penalized by the government.

Even if the Court says that all 50 states have to recognize a same-sex relationship as a marriage, there is no reason why the government should coerce or penalize institutions of civil society that simply ask to be free—without penalty—to continue to operate in accordance with the belief that marriage is a union of husband and wife.

Welcome to the new normal, America. This is coming. In fact, I don’t see any way for it to be avoided barring some sort of miraculous intervention or cataclysmic event that resets our current societal trajectory.

And it won’t just be schools. It’ll be churches. I’ve been saying for years now that the Catholic Church needs to be willing to give up its tax-exempt status so that it doesn’t feel constrained about preaching the truth, but perhaps that choice will soon be made for us. (Then again, the way most of our bishops are running things, I wouldn’t be surprised to see many dioceses sign a deal with the devil and mandate that their priests stop talking about politically-incorrect moral teachings so that the donations keep coming.)

Of course, publications like ours will be hit too. We’re a 501(c)(3), which makes your charitable contributions to us tax-deductible. This is how we’ve managed to bring in enough revenue to keep going. But I fully expect to lose that status, whether because of what we actually say in these pages or because of some pretense.

And if it comes to that, I’ll find a way to change the business model. I’m already looking into it. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

We’ve seen the IRS targeting conservative groups, we’ve seen the lawsuits against Christian businesses that won’t participate in “gay weddings,” we’ve seen the 1st Amendment violations in the Affordable Care Act and through other government programs and procedures.

It’s time to accept the fact that even if, on paper, it looks like we’re in the majority, we don’t have the power. We live in a society that is actively hostile to our beliefs. A society where a tiny minority has managed to convince enough people with power and money and influence that their rights override yours that they will get their way, through whatever coercive measures are necessary.

It’s worth remembering, for all the good the truth of it will do for us, that those who are demanding everyone accept “gay marriage” are currently scouring the Constitution, looking for an implied “right” that trumps an already explicit one.

They did it forty years ago with abortion, creating one of the most implausible arguments in human history in order to “prove” that a right to abortion existed in an amendment (the 14th) that no sane person could possibly agree with.

Don’t kid yourself by thinking they won’t do it again today.

The America we grew up in is gone. This is why we can’t have nice things – like rights, liberty, and tax-exempt status.

I’m not going to let it take the fight out of me. Are you?

8 thoughts on “Supporting Marriage Could Cost Tax-Exempt Status”

  1. Ain’t no time like the present to take out a page from V2 and indulge in a little opinionism of our own. That means laying down arms between Sedes, SSPX, indult, and “shell-shocked-by-21st-century-moral implosion” Novus Ordo devotees. If one’s position will not allow for bridge-building, one need not circle wagons with the rest of us. No judgement – sticking to your guns got you this far. Frankly, I don’t have time to worry about the disapproval of “no-compromisers” in the (let’s say “observant”) Catholic milieu. I’ve got kids to defend against moral barbarians, and I need all the practical support I can find.

    I think One Peter Five is uniquely positioned to lead the way with this.

    A paywalled discussion forum where people check their theological acrimony at the door could prove a useful tool. Simply bind participants to agree to a pronunciation of Faith and to endorse a broad characterization of the crisis (cultural and ecclesial) and its bearing on us. Membership fees and a condensed statement of common purpose would keep the boards manageable and support the apostolate.

    I am not calling for indifferentism! I’d be arguing my camp’s more pointed positions in other venues. But we do have obligations as parents that don’t hinge on proof-texting St. Bellarmine. Contemporary western society is custom-ordered against us meeting such obligations (maximizing our kids’ exposure to Catholic community, keeping gainfully employed, sanctifying our homes in the digital age, deftly outsmarting an increasingly aggressive humanist totalitarian state, etc.). Where is the online platform for networking and mutual encouragement that focuses on those duties?

    Premium content for 1P5’s impressive podcast would be another good approach. I have donated before, but I’d pay good money every month to know I’m helping to expand and solidify this apostolate. It wouldn’t be money out of my kids’ mouths if it consistently served to equip me as a father and husband.

    Steve, you’ve shown us you are perceptive and driven, so I’m sure you’ve considered these types of avenues and much more. I would just hate to see you burn out. Delivering such timely news and analysis is an undeniable service. Don’t underestimate the monetary value of the content and space you’ve created for Catholics.

    God bless you in your work. You have my support.

      • Yep – I say to heck with tax exempt. How much is liberty worth anyway. Oh and by the way – in my view the bishops may have already shook the fear into our priests about feel good homilies to avoid the politically charged but soul saving homilies on abortion/porn/gaymarriage as I’ve heard nary a peep on this topic, even at more traditional parishes in my area. My guess is even if the bishops greenlighted these taboo topics, our priests would still shake in their shoes and carry on with their “let me read you a bedtime story about Jesus” homilies. They keep more money coming in, job security. Heaven help us!

  2. People need to remember the government’s recognition of donations is not necessary for it to count toward your tithe. Giving money directly to the needy is still charitable giving even though you get no tax benefit for it.

    $100 in tax deductible contributions only reduces the taxes you pay by a fraction of that amount. You can still make contributions even if they are not tax deductible. Let’s assume I am a donor who can afford to give $100 assuming I get a $100 tax deduction which nets me $25 in tax savings. So it really costs me $75, net. If that tax deduction is disallowed, you are only going to get $75, because the government gets the other $25 as taxes.

    I know this puts a strain on nonprofits assuming all else is equal, but 501
    status has additional compliance costs, some donors are only on the cusp of
    itemizing and really don’t benefit that much from the deduction, and the
    implied (impending) content restriction of 501 status is (will be) limiting. It is helpful for big grants, but if $5 Fridays is your bread and butter, it may not be necessary.

    More donors, smaller amounts (monthly draw option!) means less impact to the
    donor one way or the other.

    God bless,

    • The compliance costs are burdensome, it’s true. It has been beneficial for our early-stage growth to have tax-exempt status. In the long run, it could be a hindrance.

      Either way, it’s not going to be the thing that keeps us from standing our ground.

  3. These especially are the times when worldly success can really endanger a soul. It will be much harder for Catholics who have worldly attachments (to money, business, etc.) to simply give them up when the time comes.

  4. Great article. Corporations are going towards “equality” and woe if you’ve got bills to pay, and go to work for one of these businesses, therein is a true moral dilemma.


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