Conservatives slam Beto O'Rourke over threat to tax-exempt status for religious organizations

Conservatives slam Beto O'Rourke over threat to tax-exempt status for religious organizations
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Former Texas Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeButtigieg picks up third congressional endorsement from New York lawmaker Klobuchar hires staff in Nevada Deval Patrick enters 2020 race MORE (D) has come under fire from conservatives after telling viewers at a CNN town hall on LGBTQ issues Thursday night that religious organizations should lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose gay marriage.

O'Rourke was questioned during the Human Rights Campaign-sponsored Equality Town Hall by CNN's Don LemonDon Carlton LemonBiden urges senators to have 'courage' for impeachment trial Biden lashes out at Graham on Ukraine: 'I'm just embarrassed by what you're doing' CNN's Don Lemon: I'm not some partisan liberal Democrat MORE whether he believed churches, religious schools and charities should lose their tax-exempt statuses "if they oppose same-sex marriage."

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"Yes," he responded. "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."

"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," he added.

The answer was sharply criticized by various conservative commentators, including Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro.

"Your mere existence is an infringement, according to Beto O'Rourke," Shapiro said. "You want a culture war? You damn well have it, Beto O'Rourke."

"Beto O'Rourke does not get to raise my child. And if he tries, I will meet him at the door with a gun," Shapiro added, referring to O'Rourke's suggestion that the policy should apply to religious schools.

Former presidential candidate Herman CainHerman CainConservatives skewer Trudeau after Trump calls him 'two-faced' Conservatives slam Beto O'Rourke over threat to tax-exempt status for religious organizations President Trump is right: Mainstream media 'do a very good job' MORE (R) also blasted O'Rourke, tweeting: "Does your church preach the Gospel? Then Beto O'Rourke wants to take away its tax-exemption. #ReligiousFreedom."

Time magazine and Fox News contributor Christopher Hale added that the policy would likely shutter a number of religious-affiliated charities that support vulnerable people due to their opposition to gay marriage.

"The Catholic Church feeds more hungry people every day in this country than any other institution, including the federal government. Under Beto’s misguided policy, the Little Sisters of the Poor would lose their tax-exempt status because they oppose same-sex marriage," he tweeted.

O'Rourke, meanwhile, has doubled down on the remark and tweeted Thursday night that "there can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone or any institution or organization in America that denies the full human rights, and the full civil rights, of everyone in America."