The biggest effort at book banning, the banning of counseling services and church conferences, the banning of academic courses, and a general banning of free speech in the history of the United States is well underway in California. This is reminiscent of when Southern states in the pre-Civil War era banned any literature suggesting that slavery might not be a good thing; what we are fighting now is slavery to same-sex attractions and gender dysphoria.
The bill in question is California Assembly Bill 2943. It would treat as a criminal violation of the state’s consumer fraud act “the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” that consists of “advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.” Don’t be misled into thinking that this bill bans only professional counselors from trying to alter same-sex attractions. It goes well beyond that.
“Orientation change” can be as innocuous as stating at a paid conference that homosexual and transgender desire can be overcome (not necessarily eliminated) by the Spirit of Jesus. Or even complying with an attendee’s request for prayer that the Spirit of God empower the attendee not to succumb to the power of same-sex attractions.
That’s not all. More than “orientation change” is at issue, for the bill expressly states:
‘Sexual orientation change efforts’ means 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.
Did you catch the part that says: “This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions,” not just orientation change? You cannot treat homosexual expression or transgenderism as the product of disordered desires.
To sell any materials or offer any counseling for a fee that present homosexual practice and transgender identity as wrong or a sin, including all commentaries on the Bible and theological or exegetical treatments that affirm the biblical position on these matters (perhaps even the Bible itself) is to incur criminal sanctions in the state of California.
What kind of books and articles (whether in print or online) can be banned? Books by me, Robert P. George, Ryan Anderson, Sherif Girgis, Tony Esolen, Nancy Pearcey, Maggie Gallagher, R. R. Reno, Andrew Comiskey, Jennifer Roback Morse, Denise Shick, Denny Burk, Edith M. Humphrey, Rosaria Butterfield, Michael L Brown, Anne Paulk, Karen Swallow Prior, Andrew Walker, and anyone else that anywhere suggest the value of a “change of behaviors or gender expressions” away from homosexual practice and transgenderism. Any books or articles that indicate that the Bible and the church have a role in encouraging people not to engage in such behavior or self-identification can be banned.
Any counselor that suggests to clients that homosexual practice or transgender identification is in any way wrong or unhealthy, irrespective of whether they offer “orientation change” services will become a criminal in the eyes of the state.
No one in the state of California could teach a course at an institution where tuition is paid that in any way challenged LGBTQ ideology, nor could students be required or recommended to purchase books that challenged such.
No church, Christian bookstore, or internet site could be a conduit for the sale of any literature that challenges homosexual practice or transgender identity. Amazon could not sell to California residents any such literature.
Here’s an example of how literature can be affected. I am currently working on a book that rebuts the work on the Bible and homosexuality of James Brownson and Matthew Vines, a book on a commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Romans, and a book on New Testament spirituality. None of these books could be sold in the state of California if this bill passes, not even the last two that have only very tiny sections dealing with homosexuality and transgenderism. I could not speak at any conference in California at which admission would be charged. Why? Because it will be forbidden to suggest that homosexual practice and transgenderism is a sin. No college or seminary or organization in California could have me or anyone else as a speaker who talks about homosexuality or transgenderism in any way that is not in lockstep with the LGBTQ agenda. Even religious instruction regarding what the Bible teaches about homosexuality will be limited to one point of view.
That’s how bad this bill is.
Democratic legislators in California are fast-tracking the bill so that the church cannot be fully mobilized in time. On April 3 the bill passed its first committee hurdle (the Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee) by an 8-2 vote (all 7 Democrats and 1 Republican voted for, two Republicans voted against). On April 10 the bill completed its second and final committee hurdle (the Judiciary Committee) by an 8-1 vote (all 7 Democrats and 1 Republican voted for, 1 Republican against, and 1 Republican abstained). It may be brought to a full vote of the Assembly as early as Monday Apr. 16. If it passes there, it will go to the state senate and from there, if passed, to the governor’s desk for signing.
Two other alarming bills are also working their way through the CA legislature.
AB 2119 prohibits anyone from attempting to change a foster child’s “gender identity by way of “treatment, intervention, or conduct,” making it illegal to suggest to one’s foster child that it is better to align one’s gender identity to one’s birth sex rather than the other way around. Moreover, the child welfare agency will be charged with ensuring that the foster child “has access to gender affirming health care and gender affirming behavioral health services,” which “include, but are not limited to,” puberty blockers “to suppress the development of endogenous secondary sex characteristics” and sexual reassignment surgery (i.e. body mutilation surgery) “to align the patient’s appearance or physical body with the patient’s gender identity.” This bill was approved by the Human Services Committee on Apri1 10 in a 5-1 vote (5 Democrats yes, one Republican no). It now goes to the Appropriations Committee.
AB 1779 prohibits licensed counselors from helping adults who are under a conservatorship or guardianship for any cause (including disability) to change unwanted homosexual or transgender desires or behavior, even those induced by sexual abuse. This bill has been assigned to the Assembly Business and Professions Committee; first hearing later in April.
The best one-stop place on the content of these bills, their progress, talking points, and contact information can be found at the California Family Council site.