Concerns are being raised about the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision re-defining marriage for religious organizations, schools, universities, and charities. Many fear that if religious institutions refuse to recognize or accommodate same-sex marriages, their tax-exempt status will be at risk.
Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion recognizes the right of Churches to “advocate” and “teach” about the meaning of marriage, but is does not mention protection of the “exercise of religion” for ordinary citizens. In his dissenting opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts remarked, “people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.”
The concern for religious liberty is real, even if not necessarily in the immediate short term. Questions were raised about challenges to the tax exempt status of religious organizations during oral arguments should the court re-define marriage, and proponents of same-sex marriage did not deny that these issues would arise in the future. The MCC will be reporting on these issues in the coming months.