Evangelical leaders were quick to return fire on Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who they called out for “weaponizing” the government against religion by vowing to take away tax-exempt status of churches that don’t support same-sex marriage.
During his appearance at CNN’s Equality Town Hall focusing on LGBTQ issues – which was co-hosted by the Human Rights Campaign – O’Rourke was posed a question by CNN Tonight Host Don Lemon. The inquiry about religious freedom was asked to see if the former Texas representative is as radical with his LGBTQ activism as he is with his ultra-left gun control agenda, which seeks mandatory gun buybacks to strip lawful owners of their AR-15 and AK-47 rifles.
"Do you think religious institutions like colleges, churches, charities … should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?” Lemon asked O’Rourke at CNN’s townhall on Thursday.
The flagging contender for the White House responded adamantly without hesitation.
"Yes!” O’Rourke answered with an air of conviction, according to CNN. “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us."
The Evangelicals strike back
It only took a matter of hours for a Christian pastor and attorney to fire back at O’Rourke’s promised attack by calling out his communist-like ploy to eradicate religion from the heart of America.
Rev. Dave Welch, the executive director of Texas Pastor Council and spokesman for the U.S. Pastor Council, made O’Rourke’s campaign to dismantle churches not conforming with the LGBTQ agenda quite clear.
“Beto has again shown his willingness to use the power of government to punish those who disagree with him – a standard practice of today's Democrat Party – as well as displaying contempt and ignorance for the historic basis of tax exemption for churches and educational institutions," Welch asserted, according to WND.
Fighting an atheistic takeover
Welch – one of the five Houston-area pastors who had his sermons subpoenaed by the city’s lesbian mayor who was looking to enforce her pro-LGBTQ ordinance – is demanding that O’Rourke call off his blatant proposed attack on churches.
"The ominous trend toward weaponizing local, state and federal government to suppress beliefs, speech and religious practice that doesn’t conform to Beto and his allies’ Marxist ideology is more reflective of a totalitarian state than a free constitutional republic," Welch contended.
He also called out O’Rourke and other LGBTQ activists for forwarding their agenda by claiming the LGBTQ community are oppressed victims of the system.
“There is simply no evidence that this class of people in this country identified as 'LGBTQ' are by law being denied access to the right to vote, the right to education or access to the economic system as our nation once tragically engaged in," Welch argued.
The massive lobbying power and money behind the aggressive LGBTQ movement then came to the forefront.
"The LGBTQ community, by their own reports, show a $1 trillion dollar buying power – equal to ethnic minorities many times their size," the Texas pastor informed. "Where is the discrimination?"
He said the Church will not sit back and watch activists behind the front of the Democratic Party continue to chip away at the religious freedoms Americans have been guaranteed for centuries under the United States Constitution.
“[To single out] one issue that has become an idol to the godless socialism of the current Democrat Party and attack the churches who will not compromise their historic biblical values of marriage as only the union of one man and one woman, is the height of tyranny – and one more reason why pastors and churches across America must rise up and stand now against this onslaught of the left," Welch asserted.
He impressed how churches have been exempted from taxation for millennia before America was founded.
"Tax exemption for churches dates back to ancient Israel, Greece and Rome,” Welch recounted. “In our founding era, the Supreme Court’s decision in McCulloch v. Maryland in 1803 asserted the principle that ‘the power to tax is the power to destroy,’ and our nation has acknowledged the revered and separate autonomy of churches, hence the tax exemption.”
First Liberty Institute CEO and Chief Counsel Kelly Shackelford – whose organization has fought off attacks similar to the one O’Rourke proposed against churches in the name of so-called LGBTQ rights – pointed out the seriousness of the new laws the presidential primary candidate is threatening to impose.
"O’Rourke threatened that he would strip churches of their tax-exempt status for simply following thousands of years of religious teaching doctrine,” Shackelford noted. “O’Rourke certainly isn’t the first to try such a stunt – First Liberty successfully defended a group of Texas churches and pastors in 2009 when their position on marriage and support of then-Governor Rick Perry drew the ire of the IRS.”
He also pointed to the economic disaster O’Rourke’s radical anti-religious policy would inflict upon America.
"O’Rourke’s idea is not only legally wrong, it’s bad policy,” Shackelford stressed. “According to a recent study, religion contributes an estimated $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy annually – more than Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft – combined.”
The legal expert promised that O’Rourke – or any other Democratic presidential candidate running for the White House – will have a fight on their hands if they attempt to strip away the religious freedoms that the colonists sought when they fled Europe to live out their faith without government obstruction.
“Beto O’Rourke’s threat is a direct affront to the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty,” Shackelford concluded. “Should he, or any future president, attempt to violate the Constitution in such a way, First Liberty will once again be first in the fight to defend religious freedom."