In passing legislation to combat quack ‘gay cure’ therapies, California may have made it illegal to sell Bibles. Christians are in full panic mode … again!
An op-ed published by The National Catholic Register today said that after Assembly Bill 2943 passed the state assembly in April, Christian groups and religious-freedom advocates warned that the measure could lead to a ban on the sale of Bibles, particularly if they were flagged as a resource for faith-based therapists helping patients address sexual orientation or gender-identity issues.
The NCR said that:
Nationwide, ‘LGBT’ activists have secured laws that bar so-called conversion therapy in nine states and 34 cities and counties. Most of these laws prohibit the provision of these services for minors, and some provide exemptions for pastoral counseling, but not for licensed therapists.
Although these efforts attempt to control practices that exploit the vulnerable and fuel discrimination, vague, overly broad language often plagues the legislation. The message seems clear: No one is allowed to talk about same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria unless they want to retain these feelings. Such laws are about stopping specific conversations between therapists and patients – a radically intrusive violation of free speech.
The op-ed added that the bill’s supporters have pushed back and say that fears of a statewide ban on Bibles are overblown. Many legal specialists agree with this assessment.
But as the California Senate takes up the bill, constitutional experts agree that a number of thorny issues have not been addressed in the language of the bill, and they deserve much more attention than they have received thus far.
The bill prohibits:
Advertising, offering to engage in or engaging in sexual-orientation-change efforts with an individual.
The measure also targets efforts designed to overcome:
Sexual behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.
California already bars licensed therapists from providing such services to minors. The new measure would penalise the provision of such services to adults, as well.
The Catholic bishops of the Golden State have signaled their opposition to the measure, citing a range of concerns. Ned Dolejsi, the California Catholic Conference’s Executive Director, told the Register:
The bill may violate the rights of adults to seek the counseling they may desire, may subject professional counselors to lawsuits and harassment, and may implicate religious speech and liberty concerns.
Dolejsi expressed uncertainty about the bill’s impact on the sale of religious materials, including the Bible.
Politifact, the fact-checking website, took up the most disturbing question posed by some critics:
Would AB 2943 ban the sale of the Bible?
A sweeping ban on the Bible is unlikely, said Eugene Volokh, a top constitutional scholar at the University of California Los Angeles Law School. But he took the question seriously and told Politifact that the law could affect sales of the Bible if it was tied to:
A practice that seeks to change the person’s behavior.
David French, in an analysis of the state law for National Review Online, said:
California law would intrude directly on [Christian] teaching, by prohibiting even the argument that, regardless of sexual desire, a person’s sexual behavior should conform to biblical standards.
The NCR concluded:
For now, at least, there are many solid reasons for opposing this bill – even if a ban on Bibles isn’t one of them.
Meanwhile, it is reported here that Irish politicians are are fully supporting a comprehensive ban of “gay cure” therapies.
The bill went before the Seanad in the Irish Parliament for its second reading yesterday, securing passage after the government confirmed it would not oppose the legislation.
Twenty senators co-signed the bill, including senators from Sinn Féin, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, the Labour Party, the Green Party and Independents.
Senator Warfield noted:
If enacted untouched, this ban would be the most comprehensive prohibition of conversion therapy in the world.