California’s track record on free speech is not so great – to put it mildly.
You need look no further than its loss at the Supreme Court this past term in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. The NIFLA case challenged a California law passed in 2015 that forced pro-life pregnancy centers to point people towards abortions. The Supreme Court ruled that this law was likely an unconstitutional violation of free speech.
That didn’t seem to slow down California officials much. For the past few months, they have been considering another bill, AB 2943, that would silence a Biblical viewpoint of human sexuality.
Thankfully, California lawmakers passed on the opportunity to put yet another unconstitutional law on the books: Today, AB 2943 died in the State Assembly.
Here’s why this is great news: This proposed California law condemned so-called “sexual orientation change efforts,” which it broadly defined to include counseling, mentoring, speaking, and referrals to resources that take a biblical approach to human sexuality with regards to same-sex attractions and gender identity. If passed, the law would have declared it a fraudulent business practice to provide any of these services for payment even if payment is nominal.
Understandably, the proposed law was alarming to those who believe what the Bible teaches about sexuality – that sex is intended for marriage between one man and one woman. And for good reason.
The bill was overly broad, threatening the free speech of churches and Christian organizations and affecting how they run their ministries – what they say, what they preach, what they sell, and what care they provide to those seeking their help. Under the proposed law, they would have faced severe fines for operating any paid event or offering any paid counseling that teaches that Jesus Christ can transform us entirely, including our sexuality. But it didn’t stop there. They also could have faced the same punishment for simply explaining that we are called as Christians to reject sin, to let our sexual behaviors be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ, and to pursue a godly life.
If this law had passed the hope of Gospel transformation would have been considered “fraudulent” in California.
Even the possibility of California passing such a law resulted in censorship. For example, Summit Ministries cancelled its 2018 Summer Student Conferences in California for fear of violating the law if it was passed.
But that’s not the only problem.
This law also would have limited options for those in the LGBT community who are seeking out these types of resources. The government exists to protect freedom, not take it away. It has no business interfering with people of faith who are questioning their sexual orientation and gender identity and want to seek Bible-based help, support, and counseling.
More speech and more options is what will truly benefit all Californians. Thankfully, for now, that speech and those options are still available to them.