California’s Government Might Ban Christian Books, Sermons, and Counseling

April 25, 2018

Now’s a good time to be thankful that you live in Texas instead of California. Free speech is under heavy attack in California. California Assembly Bill 2943 (AB 2943) could potentially ban some books, sermons, conferences, speech, and counseling!

The bill will make it an “unlawful practice” to advertise, offer, or engage in, sexual orientation change efforts with an individual. As a result, books that teach a Christian view of sexual morality might be deemed “unlawful,” as David French explains in a National Review article.

A Snopes.com article claims its false that the bill could ban books. It quotes California’s Senate Bill 1172 that was passed in 2012. The bill defined “sexual orientation change efforts” as “any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation.” That bill impacted the “Business and Professions Code, relating to healing arts” and only prohibited sexual orientation change efforts directed toward minors.

What Snopes.com doesn’t seem to understand, however, is that the wording is much different in the new proposed bill. It is much broader in scope and can lead to our First Amendment rights being taken away.

It prohibits sexual orientation change efforts not just for minors, but for adults too. It not only applies to the “healing arts,” but would change the civil code that relates to all business practices. The new bill states that “goods or services” that advertise or engage in sexual orientation change efforts are unlawful. It doesn’t just say “services,” such as counseling services. It includes “goods”—and books are considered “goods.”

The new bill defines “Sexual orientation change efforts” as “any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” Notice that it doesn’t say “any practices by mental health providers,” as the previous bill stated. It says, “any practices.”  It is left very open-ended. It could potentially include practices by pastors, authors, etc.

Such prohibited practices would include “efforts to change behaviors” or “reduce sexual or romantic attractions.” What about a pastor’s effort to reduce a person’s same-sex attraction by speaking out against homosexuality in a sermon? What about a book’s effort to change behaviors by making an argument against same-sex behavior? As currently worded, the bill could prohibit speech in all those cases and more. Thus, even if the authors of the bill did not intend to ban books, conferences, speech, etc., the authors did not include any wording to prevent that from happening.

Even the Rhode Island chapter of ACLU—a long-standing supporter of LGBTQ rights—is against this bill. They agree that such “legislative intrusion” is a violation of the First Amendment rights and declare that “Legislative regulation remains problematic in our view, particularly because of its potential civil liberties impact…”

Even if the bill is just referring to counseling practices, and not banning books, the ACLU still thinks the bill’s language is too broad. The ACLU proclaims that some individuals might want to resist acting on same-sex attractions “for reasons such as a desire to maintain a marriage or to enter the seminary.” And thus, if there are people who do not want to act on their same-sex attraction, efforts to help them by counseling should not be barred by the government.

As cultural commentator and author Nancy Pearcey asks, “Whatever happened to client autonomy and self determination?” and do “you really want the government to tell people what kind of counseling goals they are allowed to have?”

I sure don’t! This issue is not about whether you are pro or anti-LGBTQ rights. This is about saying “No” to the government’s over encroachment and “Yes” to the First Amendment. Government does not have the right to ban books. Government does not have the right to tell people they can’t offer help and therapy to people who want to change their feelings or behavior. Government does not have the right to silence those with different viewpoints or religious beliefs. Government does not have the right to intrude into every area of our life, such as our bookstores and private counseling rooms.

It’s time for government to put down this bill and back away…quickly. C’mon, government! Stop being a control freak.

In Service,

Texas Citizens Coalition

Gary Gates started the non-profit Texas Citizens Coalition because he has a passion for individual liberty and preserving the Constitution, and it’s a fight he’s engaged in with every facet of his life. He believes a coalition is needed because it takes all of us being actively involved to move our state and country forward. We as citizens must stay informed because We the People are in charge and must hold government accountable. Gary desires to provide Texas citizens a free resource to get useful information about state government from a conservative perspective.
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