Christian media outlets and anti-LGBTQ advocacy groups are spreading lies about a non-binding resolution in the California assembly that promotes compassion toward LGBTQ people and warns of the potential harms of conversion therapy.
Last year, California legislator Evan Low sponsored legislation that would have classified advertising or engaging in conversion therapy as a fraudulent business practice. He withdrew that legislation after hearing from religious leaders who opposed it as an infringement on religious liberty. Some of the legislation’s opponents made wildly dishonest claims about the bill, including that it would ban the sale of the Bible.
Earlier this month, Low introduced a resolution, ACR-99, which calls upon religious leaders to approach LGBTQ issues with love, compassion and knowledge of the harms caused by conversion therapy, and calls upon Californians “to embrace the individual and social benefits of family and community acceptance.” It also calls upon the people and institutions of California “to model equitable treatment of all people of the state.” The resolution was approved by the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
As the committee’s analysis of the resolution makes clear, it is non-binding and “what it calls for is quite modest relative to past legislative efforts.” But you’d never know that from the headlines from Christian media and anti-LGBTQ organizations.
“CA Lawmakers Trying to Force Pastors to Embrace Pro-LGBT Ideology,” screams a headline posted on Tuesday by the Christian Broadcasting Network. It’s not true. Low’s non-binding resolution doesn’t force anyone to do anything. CBN warns that the resolution is “aimed at telling religious leaders in California what they should preach from their pulpits.”
CBN quotes Pastor Joe Dallas claiming that ACR-99 “dictates to pastors that they cannot teach that homosexuality is a sin. Nor can they encourage homosexually-attracted people who hold a traditional Biblical view to live in accordance with their own faith.” Again, completely false. The resolution does not do anything to restrict pastors’ ability to preach or speak against homosexuality. In Dallas’s post at The Stream, in which he acknowledges that ACR-99 is a non-binding resolution, he nevertheless warns, “Today’s seemingly benign resolution paves the way for tomorrow’s stringently enforced law.”
The Family Policy Alliance wrongly warned that the resolution “seeks to silence the church on LGBT issues” and that it “could be used to target specific religious texts, in addition to censoring what pastors preach and how they counsel their congregants.” Nope. Also nope to this headline from Christian Headlines: “California Lawmakers Want to Control What Pastors Preach about LGBT Beliefs.”
A letter from a group of Religious Right leaders opposing the resolution claimed that it “seeks to take away the freedom to give or receive assistance for sexual attraction of gender identity change.” Again, this non-binding resolution takes freedom away from no one. Among the letter’s signers: conversion therapy promoter Joseph Nicolosi, the Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg, anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera, and Sharon Slater of Family Watch International. Sprigg also wrote his own letter opposing the resolution.
Ken Williams and Elizabeth Woning, two “ex-gay” activists, testified against the resolution. Their organization, Equipped to Love, published a blog post under the headline, “Controlled by the State,” which charges that the resolution “elevates government ideology above an individual’s right to religious freedom,” and that individuals, therapists and religious institutions “are commanded to embrace homosexuality as something to be applauded,” which is, again, a lie.
David Cary Hart at Slowly Boiled Frog has pointed out additional inaccurate critics of the resolution.