First, an apology for a long delay (I have been on the road) getting to this important news topic — as in the hand grenade that Beto O’Rourke tossed, whether his fellow Democrats want to talk about it or not, into the 2020 White House race.
I am referring, of course, to his LGBT-forum statement that the U.S. government should strip the tax-exempt status of churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious groups that defend — even inside their own doors — ancient teachings on marriage and sex that do not mesh with modernized doctrines.
If you want to start a firestorm, that was the spark you would need in a nation bitterly divided on the role of religious faith and practice in the real world. Here’s the key quote:
“There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for any institution or organization in America that denies the full human rights and full civil rights of every single one of us,” he said. …
Will journalists keep asking about this or will that job be left to members of Donald Trump’s campaign advertising team? That was the topic we discussed during this week’s Crossroads podcast (click here to tune that in).
To its credit, the team at Religion News Service did a basic follow-up report: “Buttigieg, Warren reject O’Rourke plan to link church tax status, LGBT policy.” Here’s a crucial chunk of that:
“I’m not sure (O’Rourke) understood the implications of what he was saying,” said Buttigieg, an Episcopalian who is married to a man. “That (policy) means going to war not only with churches, but I would think, with mosques and a lot of organizations that may not have the same view of various religious principles that I do.
“So if we want to talk about anti-discrimination law for a school or an organization, absolutely they should not be able to discriminate. But 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.” …
In a statement to Religion News Service on Sunday, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign also pushed back on O’Rourke’s remark.
So, for journalists who are paying close attention, it would appear that O’Rourke’s bold stance represents the left side of the Democratic Party, while Mayor Pete and Warren are trying to find a centrist stance.
Reporters: What is the content of that center stance?