South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg (D.) said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union that former congressman Beto O'Rourke (D., Texas) does not understand the implications of stripping tax-exempt status from churches that oppose LGBTQ rights.
"That means 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, but also, because of the separation of church and state, are recognized as non-profits in this country," Buttigieg told host Jake Tapper.
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Buttigieg's comments came after O'Rourke suggested at CNN's Equality Town Hall on Thursday that churches should lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage.
Buttigieg, who is married to a man, said this plan would be harmful to Americans.
"If we want to talk about anti-discrimination law for a school or an organization, absolutely," Buttigieg said. "They should not be able to discriminate. But going after the tax exemption of churches, Islamic centers, or other religious facilities in this country, I think that's just going to deepen the divisions that we're already experiencing."
O'Rourke's proposal drew criticism from religious liberty experts and lawmakers, with Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) calling it "bigoted nonsense."