.- Opponents of Question 1, the Maine ballot initiative which vetoed the state legislature’s recognition of same-sex “marriages,” are encouraging their supporters to file IRS complaints against churches. In response, the Alliance Defense Fund has attacked such suits as “frivolous” and offered its help to targeted churches. Question 1 passed by 53 to 47 percent, with significant support from the Catholic Diocese of Portland.
Scott Fish, Communications Director of Stand for Marriage Maine, told CNA the day after the vote that Catholic support was “very crucial” to the outcome.
“The Yes on 1 campaign, had much support from Catholics statewide, working hand-in-hand with Evangelical churches throughout Maine, as well as other denominations,” Fish said.
Upset by the results, Maine Marriage Equality is calling on same-sex “marriage” supporters to file complaints with the IRS about churches that supported the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.
Erik Stanley, Senior Legal Counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, criticized the complainants to the IRS.
“This is an all-too-obvious attempt to use the IRS to intimidate pastors and churches as a means of punishment and to get them to be quiet,” he said in a press release. “We encourage the churches of Maine not to be intimidated and to contact us if they are contacted by the IRS.”
“Pastors and churches have a right to speak about biblical truths from the pulpit without fear of punishment. They can encourage their congregations to take a stand for marriage and can directly support legislative issues like Question 1 without running afoul of IRS rules,” he continued.
Stanley charged that groups that want to “redefine” marriage are “intentionally threatening” churches’ tax-exempt status to promote “fear, intimidation and disinformation to silence their voice.”
“ADF will stand with these churches to defend their right to free speech and religious expression against these baseless scare tactics,” he stated.
The ADF says that support of the kind which churches showed for Question 1 is “almost always allowable” by the IRS.
Some religious groups, such as one calling itself Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry, opposed Question 1. No IRS complaints against them have been reported.