In the wake of the Supreme Court’s marriage redefinition, Attorney Generals from 14 states signed and sent a letter to the leaders of Congress imploring them to uphold and protect the constitutional rights and tax exempt status of religious organizations.
“On behalf of our citizens and religious organizations in our states, we are concerned about recent statements by the government in oral arguments before the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges. The U.S. Solicitor General said that tax-exempt status is “certainly going to be an issue” for religious organizations in the future”
In the letter the 14 chief legal officers express their concern that the IRS and U.S. Solicitor General will revoke the tax exempt status that religious organizations and charities count on to survive. “We take very seriously the religious freedom of our states’ citizens and believe that Congress should take action now to preclude the IRS from targeting religious groups in this way”.
The concern stems from the fact that same sex marriage goes against the fundamental values of a number of religions that are practiced in the United States and the Supreme Court decision is forcing people of faith to choose between honoring their faith or being treated like a criminal. Religious people are already experiencing persecution around the country for being unwilling to participate in same-sex marriages.
The 14 states call upon Congress to honor the Constitution. “The 1st Amendment guarantees a citizen’s right to freely exercise his or her religion and a religious group’s right to shape its own faith and mission. It prevents the government from enacting or enforcing laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion or abridging the freedom of speech”.
The IRS hold the power to withhold or revoke tax exempt status “for any organization that participates in any activity contrary to a fundamental public policy”. Any act by the IRS in the stripping of religious freedoms and tax status would amount to an unelected person dictating policy and would affect and essentially persecute hundreds of millions of Americans.
“To allow the IRS to proceed in this way would suggest that the IRS has the power to target disfavored beliefs in any religious organization, to effectively decide the truth or correctness of a religious belief, and to penalize as a matter of “policy” a mainstream belief held by groups that long have received tax-exempt status. This would go beyond the common law public policy doctrine, beyond the text of the Internal Revenue Code, and beyond the strictures of the First Amendment and RFRA”.
Read the full letter. It was signed by the Attorney Generals from West Virginia, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.