Christian schools have every reason to worry.
Some in Congress are trying to protect religious institutions, but Christian schools are probably going to face some tough challenges.
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.”
“I am concerned, and I think I’d be remiss, if not naïve, to be otherwise,” said Everett Piper, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, in Bartlesville. “This is not alarmist thinking. This is rational listening.”
What alarms me is that so-called Christian schools would ever consider violating God’s commandments in order to keep their tax exempt status.
I also think that, in several states, losing their tax exempt status will be the least of their concerns. I could easily imagine Blue States imposing a much greater degree of persecution on schools that maintain Christian teaching.
But it is worth noting that the New York Times does not discount these concerns as unrealistic or paranoid. It treats them as realistic fears. It also quotes one legal expert who says they should “be very reasonably fearful, not just as to tax exemptions but as to a wide range of other programs.”
The United States government, at the Federal and state level, is about to force Christians to prove they are really loyal to Jesus rather than to the world.