Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse bashed 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s comments on tax-exempt churches as “extreme intolerance” Wednesday.
Sasse spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday and called on Republicans and Democrats to reaffirm the principles of the First Amendment. Sasse questioned the members of the Senate whether it is right for the U.S. government to “get into the business of policing Muslims’, Jews’ and Christians’ religious beliefs” and introduced legislation condemning O’Rourke’s words.
Sasse pointed out that the whole point of America is the First Amendment and that the point of the First Amendment is that “no matter who you love and no matter how you worship, we believe in America that everyone – everyone – is created with dignity.” (RELATED: Warren Joins Buttigieg, Shies Away From Saying Churches Should Lose Tax-Exempt Status)
“This is a fundamental American tenet,” Sasse added. “It’s why this country was founded. Because we are all created with dignity, none of us have the right to dictate the conscience of other people.”
Sasse referenced comments O’Rourke made at CNN’s LGBTQ forum on Oct. 10, saying religious institutions that oppose same-sex marriages should lose their tax-exempt status. O’Rourke 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.”
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.
“I don’t care what some nitwit said on CNN last week to satisfy his fringy base and try to get a sound bite in a presidential debate,” Sasse added Wednesday. “The American people ought to know that this body stands for the historic First Amendment, that’s what we all took an oath to uphold and to defend and that’s what we ought to vote to affirm again. Let’s do it.”
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