Liberty Counsel, which defends religious and civil rights, Friday warned that the state of California effectively is about to ban the sale of Bibles.
A bill in the legislature, approved 50-18 in an Assembly vote this week, would forbid counselors from telling a gender-confused male client that he is actually a man.
The law would allow, however, a counselor to advise a male he should identify as a woman.
The legislation, AB 2943, “is so far reaching that it also prohibits printed materials and even books,” Liberty Counsel warned.
An affirmative vote in the Democratic-controlled state Senate appears to be likely.
Liberty Counsel explained the bill “would prevent so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ sometimes called Sexual Orientation Change Efforts, and add it to the list of fraudulent schemes under the states’ Consumer Legal Remedies Act.”
The bill declares “advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual” is fraudulent business practice.
“If approved, victims of sexual abuse can no longer get counseling if they develop (as often happens) unwanted urges to engage in same-sex behavior or become gender confused,” Liberty Counsel said.
“This bill would also make it unlawful for any person to sell books, including the Bible, counseling services, or anything else that directs people to trust in Jesus Christ to help them overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.”
Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, a leading pro-family group, criticized the bill.
“How can any legislator voting for this call themselves pro-choice when they’ve voted to wipe out a person’s own choice of a counselor?” Thomasson asked.
“How can any legislator voting for AB 2943 say they support religious freedom when they’ve just threatened church bookstores that sell self-help books about overcoming unwanted same-sex desires? AB 2943 is anti-free-speech, anti-religious-freedom, anti-free-choice, and has no place in a free society. This intolerant bill contains no exemption and no protection at all for religious entities.”
He said the claim that counseling to overcome same-sex attraction is “harmful” is built on unfounded reasoning.
“There are lots of people who’ve had gender confusion counseling and are a lot happier afterward,” he said. “If Evan Low is so concerned about harm, he’d oppose the unhealthy homosexual and transsexual agenda, which has the highest HIV/AIDS transmission rate in our state and nation. How come the ‘LGBTIQ’ agenda encourages young people to question their heterosexuality, but is against anyone questioning their homosexuality? This freedom-robbing bill is unconstitutional on its face.
“Next time any of these anti-freedom legislators choose a personal or marriage counselor, let them be reminded what hypocrites they are for denying other people their own choice of a counselor,” he said.
Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel’s chief counsel, added: “The implications of California AB 2943 reach far beyond regulating the type of counseling offered by licensed therapists. This bill is unconstitutional as it substitutes the government for personal choice and is a shocking assault on free speech.
“Imagine a church not allowed to sell Christian books, or even Bibles, that help people overcome same-sex attractions. This bill will do the unimaginable is passed. If it does pass, we will immediately file suit.”
WND reported last month the bill’s sponsors contend “contemporary science recognizes that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is part of the natural spectrum of human identity and is not a disease, disorder, or illness.”
That assumption, in defiance of virtually all medical and mental health conclusions for much of the 20th century, is their starting point.
They then cite the statements of organizations, such as the Pan American Health Organization, that support homosexuality.
They argue: “Courts, including in California, have recognized the practice of sexual orientation change efforts as a commercial service. Therefore, claims that sexual orientation change efforts are effective in changing an individual’s sexual orientation, may constitute unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business practices under state consumer protection laws. This bill intends to make clear that sexual orientation change efforts are an unlawful practice under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.”
The Pacific Justice Institute, which defended minors seeking help for same-sex attractions when the state outlawed such counseling, warned of the bill’s infringement of religious rights.
“Unlike prior legislation target [sexual orientation change efforts], sometimes known as reparative or conversion therapy, this bill is not limited to minors or licensed counselors,” Pacific Justice said. “It also does not include any religious exemptions for churches or non-profit ministries. On its face, the targeted ‘goods and services’ could include the sale of books on the power of the Gospel to heal sexual brokenness, or conferences addressing the same topics.”
The state previously banned therapies for children, defining “conversion therapy” as employing “prayer, religious conversion, individual and group counseling.”
Consequently, the law is “an unconstitutional regulation of the church by the state,” PJI asserted.