New Jersey Attacks Religious Freedom by Revoking Methodist Camp Tax Exemption for Not Hosting Same-Sex Union
"Contrary to New Jersey's assertions, the Ocean Grove Camp Ground Association has not limited the use of its boardwalk pavilion to any person, rather it has prohibited some BEHAVIOR, according to the principles of the United Methodist Church." --Mark Tooley, Executive Director UMAction
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 /Christian Newswire/ -- Ocean Grove Camp Ground in New Jersey was founded and has been privately owned by a Methodist organization since the 19th century. New Jersey is now threatening its tax-exempt status because the camp ground will not host homosexual ceremonies, in compliance with the teachings of the United Methodist Church. According to the New York Times, the state commissioner of environmental protection declined to recertify a boardwalk pavilion as tax exempt because the camp ground would not allow a lesbian rite there. The lesbian couple has filed a civil rights complaint with the state against the Ocean Grove Camp Ground Association.
Methodists founded the privately-owned camp ground in the 19th century as a place for spiritual revival and continue to operate it today. Association leaders point to the United Methodist Church's official prohibition against same-sex unions on church property.
IRD Director of UMAction Mark Tooley responded,
"The state ruled that the boardwalk pavilion no longer met the tax-exempt requirement as a place fully open to the public, which is inaccurate. The pavilion is in fact open to all people, and the lesbian couple in this dispute could have used it for any number of purposes other than the celebration of a ceremony that the United Methodist Church specifically prohibits on church property.
"Contrary to New Jersey's assertions, the Ocean Grove Camp Ground Association has not limited the use of its boardwalk pavilion to any person, rather it has prohibited some BEHAVIOR, according to the principles of the United Methodist Church.
"The New Jersey government is now interfering with the camp association's religious liberty by revoking its green space tax exemption. This tax exemption had previously been renewed year after year without objection. Now suddenly it has become endangered in a vindictive political attack unrelated to environmental protection or green space."