If Mayor Pete Buttigieg had his way your local Christian school would be forced to make a choice: hire transgender teachers, gender-fluid principals and pansexual coaches or lose federal funding.
During a CNN town hall meeting the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, stated emphatically that any religious institution or charity that refuses to hire or serve LGBTQ individuals should be stripped of federal tax dollars.
"Mayor, just to be clear, do you believe that other religious and non-profit institutions, like colleges and homeless charities, should lose their federal funding if they refuse to hire or serve LGBTQ people," CNN host Don Lemon asked.
"Yes, if they are discriminating, then they should not be doing it with federal dollars," the openly gay presidential candidate replied.
Lemon should have asked a series of very important follow-up questions:
Does that mean that women's shelters run by Christian charities would be forced to admit men who identify as women? Does that mean the Catholic Church would be required to serve the LGBTQ community by performing same-sex weddings? Does that mean Baptist schools would be under a government mandate to hire staff with beliefs contrary to their doctrine? Would Christian daycare centers be forced to open their doors to Drag Queen Story Time?
To what extent would a Buttigieg presidency demand that religious institutions turn their back on the Almighty in exchange for the almighty dollar?
As shocking as the Gospel of Mayor Pete may be, it's not the first time a Democrat running for the White House has suggested that churches should be punished for following the teachings of the Holy Bible.
In 2919 Lemon asked a similar question to then-candidate Robert Francis (Beto) O'Rourke.
"Do you think religious institutions like colleges, churches, charities, should they lose their tax exempt status if they oppose same sex marriage," he asked.
"Yes," Beto replied. "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."
Among the Christian institutions that would be at-risk during a Buttigieg presidency would be Truett-McConnell University, a Christian school in Georgia (and a sponsor of my radio show).
"The attack on Christians and Christian principles, in particular on those who believe Scripture is inerrant, comes from the very candidate who claims he follows Jesus, but denies the words of Jesus in Matthew 19 in which our Lord affirms marriage as being a union between a man and woman," Truett President Emir Caner told the Todd Starnes Show. "And while Mayor Pete desires to penalize - discriminate - against Christian colleges by removal of federal funding, he then advocates that federal funding must be restored for the purpose of snuffing out the life of the least of these, the unborn who cannot fend for themselves. Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing."
The Democrats may try to silence the Body of Christ, but if the gates of Hell will not prevail against it, I doubt Mayor Pete will either.
You can read the full transcript of the town hall segment below.
QUESTION: Good evening. As an LGBTQ American, it's quite remarkable to be speaking to you on stage right now, so thank you. Our governor was recently granted a waiver for faith-based foster and adoption programs that accept federal funding allowing these programs to reject prospective parents if their sexual orientation or gender identity doesn't align with the group's religious values. This ultimately harms the children in their care and discriminates against the LGBTQ community.
BUTTIGIEG: That's right.
QUESTION: If elected, how do you intend to protect and uphold the separation of church and state and work for these children?
BUTTIGIEG: Thank you. It's very simple. I believe that federal funding should never be used to discriminate. It is a basic principle.
And here's how I think about religious freedom more broadly. And I think -- I feel this way both as a citizen and as a person of faith. Of course it is so important to the fabric of this country that people of every religion and of no religion can practice their faith to the best of their conscience.
But like any other freedom, that freedom ends where it -- you begin to invoke it to harm other people, just as the freedom of speech, right, or any other freedom is constrained by that.
We all treasure our freedom of speech, but nobody here has the freedom to yell "fire" in this crowded space. It is the same way with religious liberty. We respect -- and I will fiercely defend -- religious liberty, but not past the point where it is being invoked as an excuse to harm other people through this kind of discrimination.
LEMON: Mayor, just to be clear, do you believe that other religious and non-profit institutions, like colleges and homeless charities, should lose their federal funding if they refuse to hire or serve LGBTQ people?
BUTTIGIEG: Yes, if they are discriminating, then they should not be doing it with federal dollars.