President Donald Trump slammed Democratic opponent Beto O'Rourke's plan to strip churches of tax-exempt status if they won't allow same-sex unions as "wacko."
Speaking over the weekend to the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., an event hosted by the homophobic Family Research Council, he singled out O'Rourke's controversial remarks without naming the former Texas congressman.
"Just a few days ago a Democrat running for president proposed revoking the tax-exempt status of many churches and religious group. And you know why and you who it is," Trump said, according to The Dallas Morning News.
"He's a wacko. I will never allow the federal government to be used to target, harass or punish communities of faith."
O'Rourke originally confirmed he would go after churches' tax status during a CNN Town Hall event on LGBTQ issues. Out moderator Don Lemon asked O'Rourke if "religious institutions like colleges, churches, charities, should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?" O'Rourke said yes, and that "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."
Interestingly, Trump's position differs little from that of another Democratic presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg. The gay and married mayor of South Bend, Ind., said O'Rourke's position would mean effectively "going to war not only with churches but I would think with mosques and a lot of organizations that may not have the same view of various religious principles that I do."
And another top Democratic contender, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, also dismissed the idea, reports the Associated Press.
"Religious institutions in America have long been free to determine their own beliefs and practices, and she does not think we should require them to conduct same-sex marriages in order to maintain their tax-exempt status," a Warren spokeswoman told the AP.