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Briefcase: Tax Exempt Religious Schools

Guest Johnny Rex Buckles


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Religious colleges and universities that require students to abide by theologically grounded sexual conduct policies face new questions about their tax exempt status. Professor Johnny Rex Buckles with the University of Houston Law Center has conducted research in this area.

"A tax exempt school is prohibited from operating so as to violate established public policy," Professor Buckles said. "The Supreme Court recently held in the Obergefell case that same-sex couples may exercise the right to marry. Because policies of some religious schools require students to practice abstinence unless they are spouses in a monogamous, heterosexual marriage, some analysts question whether these policies are consistent with Obergefell."

Buckles believes these religious schools should remain tax-exempt. "An organization that embraces a traditional view of marriage as part of its exercise of religion does not prevent the government from enforcing the right to marry recognized in Obergefell."