Some Christian Schools in Arizona Fear Gay Marriage Ruling Will Force Closures

Phoenix, AZ (KPHO) -- A number of leaders of conservative Christian schools in Arizona signed their names to a letter to Congress, begging for their religious freedom to be protected.

The Supreme Court's ruling to allow gay marriage paved the way for uncertainty from religious groups, fearing they will be forced to abandon their belief system or lose their tax exemption.

During discussion, the justices alluded to the possibility that tax exempt status could be in jeopardy for schools or churches that prevent gay relationships or do not permit gay couples from living on campus.

There is precedent: years ago, organizations that did not support interracial relationships were denied their tax-exempt status.

Leaders of several Valley churches and schools expressed their concern about their religious rights, writing:
"Any federal initiative, whether generated in the judicial, executive, or legislative branches of government, to remove tax-exempt status from faith-based education institutions because of their commitment to their beliefs about marriage would result in severe financial distress for those institutions and their millions of students."

Among the local leaders who signed the letter were the president of Arizona Christian University Len Munsil, and the president of the Christian Schools of Arizona organization, Michael Sproul.

The general counsel for the Center for Arizona Policy says financial distress is just the beginning.

"A lot of these Christian schools, it is the lifeblood to them," Josh Kredit said. "They are providing countless benefits to society and to take away that tax exempt status, it would shutter a number of schools."

Kredit said that would leave parents with fewer options in a state that values school choice.

"I think a lot of people aren't even aware that this could be an issue and I think if they find out … then they will be very concerned."

The authors of the letter said they are not willing to budge on their beliefs, even if it means their schools die for them: "The majority of these institutions hold to religious traditions that forbid sexual intimacy outside of marriage between one man and one woman, and will not jettison these convictions for any tax benefit."

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