Warren Joins Buttigieg, Shies Away From Saying Churches Should Lose Tax-Exempt Status

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren shied away from saying that churches should lose their tax-exempt status if they decline to perform same-sex marriages.

Though “Elizabeth will stand shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQ+ community” and seeks to get rid of any “fear of discrimination and violence,” the Massachusetts senator would not force churches to lose their tax-exempt status, campaign spokeswoman Saloni Sharma told The Associated Press.

“Religious institutions in America have long been free to determine their own beliefs and practices, and she does not think we should require them to conduct same-sex marriages in order to maintain their tax-exempt status,” Sharma told the publication by email. (RELATED: Warren Celebrates Indigenous People On Columbus Day)

Democratic South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg also weighed in on the matter Sunday and said on CNN that “going after the tax exemption of churches, Islamic centers or other religious facilities in this country, I think that’s just going to deepen the divisions that we’re already experiencing.”

Fellow 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said religious institutions that oppose same-sex marriages should lose their tax-exempt status at CNN’s LGBTQ forum on Oct. 10, and he reiterated his statements Sunday.

“To be clear, you are free to believe anything that you want to in this country — to associate with whom you please, to practice your faith as you best see fit,” O’Rourke told MSNBC’s Geoff Bennett. “But you are not allowed to discriminate against people in this country, to violate their civil rights or their human rights.”

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 12: Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks to the press after taking part in a Pride month run, June 12, 2019 in New York City. On Wednesday, O'Rourke pledged to reverse President Donald Trump's restrictions on transgender people serving in the military and push for passage of the Equality Act if elected president. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke speaks to the press after taking part in a Pride month run, June 12, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

O’Rourke said that this loss of tax-exempt status would also apply to mosques and minority churches.

“To be specific, the way that you practice your religion or your faith within that mosque or that temple or synagogue or church, that is your business and not the government’s business,” O’Rourke said Sunday.

“But when you are providing services in the public sphere, say, higher education, or health care, or adoption services, and you discriminate or deny equal treatment under the law based on someone’s skin color or ethnicity or gender or sexual orientation, then we have a problem,” the former Texas representative added.

Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker dodged answering a similar question Thursday night at CNN’s LGBTQ forum, saying, ““I’m not saying, because I know this is a long legal battle.”

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