It is important to keep in mind that tax exemptions are a matter of “legislative grace,” which means that no one is necessarily entitled to tax exemptions and that they are not protected by the Constitution. If a government doesn’t want to allow tax exemptions, it doesn’t have to. It is up to taxpayers to establish that they are entitled to get any exemptions which the government allows: if they fail to meet that burden, the exemptions can be denied.
Such denial is not, however, an infringement upon their free exercise of religion. As the Supreme Court observed in the 1983 case of Regan v. Taxation With Representation of Washington, “a legislature’s decision not to subsidize the exercise of a fundamental right does not infringe the right.”
[For the full opinion, see here.]
[Also see here and here and here for some different perspectives on this issue.]
James Hipps of the blog,"Gay Agenda," put it best:
Former president Jimmy Carter threatened the LDS with taxation in 1978 if they didn’t stop preaching segregation…low and behold, three weeks later, the Mormons no longer believed being a person of color was a punishment from God.
I just can’t believe we let these tax-exempt cults dictate laws and rights. This really has to stop!
He's absolutely right!
In the case of homophobic churches and clergy who spew hateful rhetoric about LGBT people, bear false witness against them, and advocate discrimination against them, a sure way to silence these destructive forces that have provided much of the impetus to prevent and eliminate full and equal civil rights for LGBT people, would be to threaten to remove their tax exempt status.
We must threaten to remove the tax exempt status from any church or religious institution that poisons the well in our society, and homophobic churches and clergy do just that!