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The state of California is close to passing a law that would use consumer protection regulations to control the information presented by churches under the guise of protecting Californians from fraud.
Bill AB 2943, which has passed several rounds of committee votes and amendments as well as the assembly and will be voted on by the state senate on June 25th, would specifically ban any religious organization from providing assistance to those struggling with gender identity.
The law cites the American Psychiatric Association, as well as several other organizations, to claim that there is no evidence that adults can change their gender orientation and that attempts to do so may be harmful. The law argues that since there is no evidence that the services offered by the church are effective, then charging individuals for such therapy amounts to fraud.
In doing so, they have plunged the state deeply into issues of sexuality, individual freedom to choose and religious liberty. The law would ban anyone from offering sexual orientation change services or the materials, print or otherwise, in conjunction with such services.
While this is not likely to result in the banning of Bibles, a strict reading of the law would allow for such a ban the moment one is used to counsel someone on God's plan for sexual morality. Luis Javier Ruiz, a survivor of the 2016 massacre at The Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando, has joined the voices speaking out against this law.
Following the tragedy, Ruiz left behind a life of homosexual hedonism with the help of God's Word, but he is worried that others will be prevented from getting the same help.
"If they pass that bill in California, it will take away the rights of counselors, pastors and people that want to give you guidance on coming out of homosexuality." he told The Christian Post. "I came to Christ through the Word of God. I came to Christ over Godly counsel, pastors, people prayed me through," and he fears that this law will prevent others from getting the same help he did.
The president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Reverend Dr. Samuel Rodríguez, has spoken out on the use of this bill to discriminate against Christians and the LGBT community in California. The reverend didn't mince words when he said that "California's AB-2943 is the most egregious, tone-deaf, and discriminatory example of anti-religious legislation that I have witnessed in all my years of ministry. I am deeply troubled that this profoundly flawed bill has already passed the California Assembly and now sits with the Senate."
Several young adult conferences have already been canceled in California, such as those held by Summit Ministries, out of fear for how they may be attacked legally for teaching the Bible, and ministries across the state are now afraid that sermons from the pulpit may open them up to lawsuits, discrimination and smear campaigns.
The idea that if the state of California isn't convinced your beliefs are both true and effective, it can prosecute you, flies in the face of the core concepts of religious liberty as well as freedom of expression and association. Jim Domen, now a Christian pastor who was saved by the Word of God from a lifestyle of spiraling depression and social alienation caused by his struggles with the homosexual life-style, has also called out the legislature for "trying to silence the power of Jesus Christ."
Domen sees the bill as the government "controlling how we identify sexually," and far from protecting the rights of the LGBT community is instead cutting off their right to choose; to decide to seek the help of the Church and of God.
These are men and women who have experienced the misery and confusion surrounding issues of sexual identity and come to the other side with the help of the Church and of God and they know firsthand the harm this bill will do to Californians. Shouldn't we listen to those who have benefited from the efforts of dedicated pastors and Christian counselors and allow individuals to make their own decisions?
Other more libertarian voices, such as Rob Dreher who writes for The American Conservative, warns of the chilling effect Bill 2943 will have on freedoms of thought when he writes, "I would be appalled if a pro-LGBT organization decided to cancel a conference in my conservative state because they legitimately feared that local prosecutors would charge them over what they intended to say at the conference. That's not America, or at least not the kind of America I want to live in."
Leave it to the government of California to legislate what religious and sexual beliefs are valid and which are forbidden. In support of the freedom to follow their own beliefs, a series of demonstrations called Freedom Marches is being organized as a gathering together of those who have put aside homosexual and transgender lifestyles.
Luis Javier Ruiz was in attendance in Washington D.C. near the Washington monument at the first march and began by asking those in the LGBT lifestyle to come back, come back to the church and back to God through repentance of a lifestyle that is not God's best for them.