A new California pro-LGBTQ bill that would ban the sale or distribution of materials related to “conversion therapy” easily passed the state’s assembly on Thursday.
The bill would make it an unlawful business practice to engage in any “transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” aimed at “sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”
Goods would include any books or written materials, while services would encompass counseling individuals seeking to address same-sex attractions.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “One key part of the debate centers on whether Assembly Bill 2943 would stretch beyond businesses that charge for (conversion) programs and extend to printed documents, even Bibles.”
The Apostle Paul records that people he ministered to “were” homosexuals among other types of sinners, but they were transformed by the Spirit of God — through the renewing of their minds — into their new identities as born again children of God.
The Times reported that an analysis by the Assembly Judiciary Committee says the bill would apply only to services that purport to change a person’s sexual orientation and are offered “on a commercial basis, as well as the advertising and offering of such services.”
However, Randy Thomasson with SaveCalifornia.com told CBN News that the bill’s actual language is very broad and can easily be brought to bear on Christian ministries.
“So, this is a pastor speaking, you pay a ticket to hear him speak. He speaks about overcoming same-sex desires. Hey, that could be outlawed. A church sells a book about overcoming same-sex desires. There’s a sale, there’s a transaction, that could be banned,” Thomasson said.
“This is very expansive, very tyrannical and absolutely squashing free speech, religious freedom and basic choice of people. This is an anti-freedom, anti-American bill,” he added.
A basic freedom taken is the ability to seek the treatment of one’s own choice.
“AB 2943 would start by saying, ok, nobody can get counseling to overcome same-sex desires… ok, so no help for adult children, adults who were molested as kids and now they are adults and they say I want help to overcome these feelings. No help for you,” Thomasson explained.
Asked specifically about whether Bibles could be banned, Thomasson said it is entirely foreseeable that people might try to enforce the law in that manner.
“Well, you could see this law going into effect. A church bookstore selling the Bible, of course, selling a book about marriage or sexual purity or overcoming homosexuality or overcoming trans-sexuality. You could see a member of the public or even a member of the state government coming and saying, ‘Hey, that’s illegal,'” he stated.
The religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom released a legal memo in opposition to AB 2943 last month explaining why it likely does not pass constitutional muster regarding freedom of speech or the free exercise of religion.
“At its core, AB 2943 outlaws speech, whether offered by a licensed counselor, a best-selling author, or even a minister or religious leader,” the memo states.
“It targets a specific message—that an adult who is experiencing unwanted same-sex attraction or gender identity confusion can find help to address those issues—for censorship. The breadth of this censorship is staggering.”
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, also expressed concern about the bill.
“This proposed legislation goes to the very foundations of free speech and religious liberty and is both reckless and harmful,” Moore said in a statement Tuesday. “This bill essentially outlaws views of sexual ethics held by most Christians, Orthodox Jews, Muslims and many others, all over the world and throughout history. If passed, it would have a chilling effect on religious institutions teaching their own beliefs, and would be a harm to all citizens, religious or not, by eroding basic First Amendment protections.
“My hope is the California Senate would demonstrate a commitment to the Bill of Rights and refuse to pass this deeply destructive bill.”
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