Activists confess 'Bible ban' does target 'faith community'
In what could be a huge embarrassment for the online "fact-checker" Snopes, both a lawmaker and an LGBT activist have admitted a California state bill targets "pastors" and members of the "faith community" who insist a man is a man, not a woman, and vice versa.
The controversy is over a bill that critics have charged effectively would ban the sale of Bibles, because it regards as "consumer fraud" any commercial transaction that affirms Christian beliefs about the nature of the two genders and homosexual behavior.
WND reported Monday Snopes blasted the charge that the bill would ban Bibles as "False" in huge red lettering.
Snopes admits the bill relates to "gay conversion therapy" but states the legislation "does not mention the Bible, Christianity, or religion at all."
It acknowledges analysts were "not clear whether the text of A.B. 2943 would amount to a blanket prohibition on any and all [Sexual Orientation Change Efforts]" and quotes the homosexual sponsor of the bill saying the Bible itself is not a "gay conversation therapy" manual.
Now, a video has been revealed of 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.
He claimed the "science is clear" on the issue, since the California Medical Association, California Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics all advocate laws establishing special rights for transgendered individuals.
He didn't mention that other respected organizations take the opposite view.
Muratsuchi said the notion that the First Amendment "can be used as a defense for promoting fraudulent conduct is a fallacious argument."
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."
Liberty Counsel noted the Bible specifically refers to homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6:9 then states in verse 11: "And such were some of you."
Publishing such a passage - which indicates that "through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, people with same-sex attractions or who engaged in same-sex behavior can change" - would "be considered fraudulent business practices under this bill," Liberty Counsel argues.
Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel's founder and chief counsel, said his organization is prepared to sue "to stop this outrageous attack on the First Amendment."
He explained the Bible specifically counsels against same-sex relationships, and citing that verse in any number of ways could be interpreted by California as fraudulent activity.
Staver called it a "dangerous bill that would punish people for their biblical beliefs about marriage, gender and human sexuality."
"This law is stunning in its breadth. The mask of those supporting this oppressive bill has been removed," he said. "Their goal is to crush Christianity and any viewpoint that does not align with the state. We stand ready to file suit to stop this assault on freedom if this bill is signed into law."Snopes 'sneaky liar'
Snopes is playing with words, contends a longtime professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Robert A.J. Gagnon, the author of "The Bible and Homosexual Practice."
His column at The Federalist was titled "Snopes is a Sneaky Liar about California's Bill to Ban Christian LGBT Talk."
"If you haven't already lost significant respect for Snopes as an impartial fact-checker, its analysis of a bill that bans all transactions involved in stating Christian beliefs about homosexual behavior should," he said.
"That bill passed 50-18 on April 19 and is being considered in the state senate. Snopes' insistence that California Assembly Bill 2943 would not result in the Bible being banned in California is akin to Snopes calling 'demonstrably and clearly false' the claim that Joseph Stalin killed everyone around him," wrote Gagnon.
"Indeed, so far as we know he never personally killed anyone. But he did have a great many people killed (estimates indicate that he was responsible for the deaths of 20 to 25 million people), sent many others to the Gulag, and generally terrorized both his own country and Eastern Europe for decades."
Gagnon explained 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.'"
He quoted religious liberties lawyer David French, who agreed, stating it is "a bill that would actually - among other things - ban the sale of books expressing orthodox Christian beliefs about sexual morality."
Joining him was Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Matt Sharp: "It would be a violation if a pastor encourages a congregant to visit the church book store to purchase books that help people address sexual issues, perhaps including the Bible itself, which teaches about the importance of sexual purity within the confines of marriage between a man and a woman."
In WND's previous report, Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, a leading pro-family group, also 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."
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.