(CNSNews.com) - Democrat presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg says his fellow Democrat Beto O'Rourke may not have understood the implications of what he was saying when O'Rourke flatly stated that he would remove the tax exempt status of any church or religiously affiliated organization that opposes same-sex marriage.
Jake Tapper, host of CNN's "State of the Union," asked Buttigieg on Sunday:
"Your 2020 opponent Beto O'Rourke said at the CNN forum on LGBT rights on Thursday night that he thinks religious institutions that do not hire or provide services to LGBTQ people, such as charities or colleges, even churches, that they should lose their tax-exempt status. Do you agree with that?"
"I agree that anti-discrimination law ought to be applied to all institutions," Buttigieg responded.
But the idea that you're going to strip churches of their tax-exempt status if they haven't found their way toward blessing same-sex marriage, I'm not sure he understood the implications of what he was saying.
I mean, that 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, but also, because of the separation of church and state, are acknowledged as nonprofits in this country.
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, at a moment when we're actually seeing more and more people, motivated often by compassion and by people they love, moving in the right direction on LGBTQ rights, which is obviously extremely important to me personally.
At Thursday's CNN town hall, Don Lemon asked O'Rourke, "Do you think religious institutions like colleges, churches, charities -- should they lose their tax exempt status if they oppose same sex marriage?"
"Yes," O'Rourke said.
"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.
"And so as president, we're going to make that a priority, and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans."