No gay marriages? You shouldn't tax that church

By what must be a rather extraordinary coincidence, the question that “nobody was asking” just a few short years ago has in the last couple of days burst dramatically onto the scene: Should churches that refuse to marry same-sex couples be stripped of their nonprofit status? At Fusion, Felix Salmon makes the case that they should. “Now that the US government formally recognizes marriage equality as a fundamental right,” Salmon recommends, “it really shouldn’t skew the tax code so as to give millions of dollars in tax breaks to groups which remain steadfastly bigoted on the subject.”

Underscoring his central implication — that this is a settled matter and that it is time to bayonet the dissenters — Salmon submits bluntly that “if your organization does not support the right of gay men and women to marry, then the government should be very clear that you’re in the wrong” and “should certainly not bend over backwards to give you the privilege of tax exemption.” Certainly “any religious organization is entirely free to espouse whatever crazy views it likes,” he concedes magnanimously. “But when those views are fanatical and hurtful … it makes perfect sense for our elected representatives to register their disapproval by abolishing the tax exemption for organizations who cling to narrow-minded and anachronistic views.” Thus was another question raised: “Can you disagree with the state and remain an approved nonprofit?”

To Salmon’s credit, he is at least intellectually consistent. Ideally, he writes, he would “abolish tax exemption for all religious organizations, whether they support gay marriage or not.” In fact, he confirms on Twitter, if he had a magic wand he’d “abolish ALL tax exemptions and deductions” and thereby “force all subsidies to be explicit.”