Responding to a California bill that critics charge could ban the sale of the Bible, a Colorado-based Christian group has canceled conferences it planned to hold in in the Golden State and instead will send students to “other states where we can tell them the truth.”
Jeff Myers, president of Summit Ministries, explained his group helps students “develop an intelligent, defensible Christian worldview before they go to college.”
He called the wording of California’s AB 2943, which bans commercial messages promoting counseling or therapy to free people from same-sex behavior, “a dog whistle to the left that intelligent Christians holding traditional views are fair game for discrimination, smears and frivolous lawsuits.”
His group, he said, for 55 years has held conferences at its headquarters in Manitou Springs, Colorado, and across the nation, “training nearly a half-million young Christians to become leaders in their schools, communities, churches, families and country.”
Summit Ministries, however, has canceled its June 10-23 and June 24-July 7 sessions at Biola University near Los Angeles “due to concerns that California will forbid some of what it teaches.”
Myers said his group’s speakers are “leading Christian experts who base their presentations on theology as well as sociology, psychology and science.”
The California bill, he said, in the state’s Business and Professional Code, would regard the offering of gay-conversion therapy as “consumer fraud.”
Under the bill, “offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual” would constitute deceptive business practices be subject to fines and penalties.
The proposed law prohibits “efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”
Myers said Summit’s program would be subject to the proposed law because its lineup includes defenders of traditional marriage and sexuality, as taught in the Bible.
Typically, in prior conferences, students ask Summit staff how to address confusion over gender identity and sexual attraction in the context of their faith, he explained.
“What are we going to say to a young person experiencing sexual confusion?” he asked. “That the state of California forbids us from allowing a biblical ethic embraced by billions of people for thousands of years to inform our answer?”
He said the state is “hijacking good-faith concerns about reparative therapy to deny constitutional protection to those who hold traditional views of sexuality and marriage.”
“We cannot and will not bend God’s truth to accommodate the state of California,” Myers said.
He called on Californians to “challenge their representatives to respect biblical values.”
WND reported last week a lawmaker and an LGBT activist have admitted the bill targets “pastors” and members of the “faith community.”
A video shows California state Assembly member Al Muratsuchi admitting that he wants to target people of faith.
The lawmaker argued the First Amendment “does not prohibit banning fraudulent conduct.”
“The faith community, like anyone else, needs to evolve with the times,” he charged.
Liberty Counsel, one of the first to raise concerns about the bill, explained it is so broad it “bans books, printed materials and advertisements that provide information that a person facing unwanted same-sex attractions or gender confusion can change.”
And further, in a speech at Google headquarters, LGBT activist Samuel Brinton promised to “figure out” how to stop “pastors” and churches from offering such counseling.
“I may not be able to find every little camp … every pastor, but I can make it something that is culturally unacceptable,” he said. “Yes, it’s directly affecting mental health professionals, but by proxy, it’s affecting everyone else.”
A longtime professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Robert A.J. Gagnon, the author of “The Bible and Homosexual Practice,” has some concerns. He wrote at The Federalist of the dangers.
The bill poses legal jeopardy for a “Bible study or house church leader, member of a parachurch organization working to help people afflicted by same-sex attractions, or indeed anybody who attempts change if goods or services involve an exchange of funds.”
“Read the bill. There is no religious exemption. There is no restriction to mental health professionals. There is not even a restriction to claims about changing a person’s sexual orientation or transgender feelings in whole or part. The bill is quite clear that any ‘efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions’ are included in the ban on attempts to change a person’s ‘sexual orientation,'” he said.
He continued: “So you would be violating the law if you advertise that Christ can empower people not to engage in homosexual practice or not to identify as ‘gay’ or ‘transgender’ because such behaviors and self-identities are morally wrong, or if you offer to engage or actually engage in efforts to persuade people of Christ’s power to transform in this area, you will be in violation of California AB 2943, at least so long as your advertising or efforts involved in any way an exchange of money for goods or services.”
Violations of A.B. 2943 could, he said, include “selling religious or secular books (pamphlets, videos, audios, etc.), holding conferences, teaching courses in a college or seminary where tuition is paid, giving a speech at a paid venue, counseling people for a fee, or perhaps even posting online articles in a site that requires a paid subscription, in which it is asserted (in whole or part) that it is morally wrong for people to engage in homosexual practice or identify as ‘gay’ or ‘transgender.'”