Charleston, W.Va. – Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and 14 other state Attorneys General announced July 2 they have sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to take steps to protect the tax-exempt status of nonprofit religious organizations.
The letter, sent to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was prompted by statements before the U.S. Supreme Court by Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. during oral arguments in the Obergefell v. Hodges case. When asked if religious-affiliated institutions could have their tax-exempt status revoked if they opposed same-sex marriage, Verrilli said “it’s certainly going to be an issue.”
The letter asks that Congress modify the Internal Revenue Code to prevent the Internal Revenue Service from revoking the tax-exempt status of nonprofit religious organizations that disagree with the decision in Obergefell.
“Under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, citizens have the right to exercise their religion freely without government pressure to change their minds or penalties for unpopular beliefs,” the letter states. “We take very seriously the religious freedom of our States’ citizens and believe that Congress should take action now to preclude the IRS from targeting religious groups in this way.”
The letter says stripping the tax-exempt status of religious organizations would be “an unprecedented assertion of governmental power over religious exercise.”
“We need to ensure that citizens’ religious freedom is protected,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. “I urge Congress to take action on this issue quickly.”
Attorney General Morrisey was joined in the letter by Attorneys General from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.
A copy of the letter can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/1FV39Cm.