By Brent Olsson, J.D., Crosswalk.com
With the recent passage in the California House Bill 2943, the state legislature is attempting to go where no government has ever gone before in regulating speech and religious thought. This new bill would not only prevent Christians from discussing what the Bible teaches about morality, but it could also put the Bible on their newest banned book list using the issue of gay rights.
The bill which passed recently by a 50 to 18 vote, declares it an “unlawful business practice” to engage in a “transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” that advertises or engages in “sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”
What does that mean? In essence the broad scope of the bill’s dragnet would prevent any practices, counseling, books or training which are contrary to same sex attraction. This includes efforts which might eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.
At the time of this writing, the bill is awaiting passage by the Senate.
Under this statute, if a pastor read from I Corinthians 6:9—which describes homosexual acts as sexual depravity that disqualifies a person from inheriting the kingdom of God—would be subject to sanctions as an “unlawful practice.” Even if the bill does not pass the Senate, the fact that an attempt to regulate religious speech has gotten that much traction in a legislature, will have a chilling impact on religious expression. Evangelist Mario Murillo has aptly called this the “War on Repentance.”
When the First Amendment was drafted in August of 1789, it was to protect religious liberty with what was referred to as the “right of conscience.” James Madison explained it as a liberty out of bounds from state regulations. As the issue was debated, Madison argued that Congress “could not compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience.” California Bill 2943 runs directly contrary to Madison’s teaching and the First Amendment protections, by declaring “unlawful” any religious motivated speech to assist a person who wants to resist homosexual impulses.
The freedom for the right of conscience was revived in 2014 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. In that decision, the court reaffirmed Hobby Lobby’s right to object to the Obamacare mandated requirement that employers must provide contraceptives as part of their health insurance. The Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, objected to the requirement as it was contrary to their deeply held religious belief against abortion.
While this was a significant victory, the Left has relentlessly engaged in a legal strategy to make “equality” for minority groups a higher priority in the law than religious freedom in America. One example of this is their argument that since the U.S. Supreme Court has given gays the right to marriage, then they must not be made to feel excluded or inferior by the heterosexual majority. Consequently, when a Christian baker in Colorado and one in Oregon declined to make a cake specifically for a gay marriage, anti-discrimination statutes were evoked. In both instances, the bakers were fined into financial ruin. Thankfully, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling in the case of the Colorado baker in a 7-2 decision.
It is important that Christians recognize the Left’s tactics which seek to weaponize anti-discrimination statutes to intimidate and force conformity to gay rights dogma. In a 2016 report released by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, the Obama appointed chairman of that federal agency, Martin R. Castro, equated the legal term “religious liberty” as “code words” for “homophobia,” “Christian supremacy,” and “intolerance.” In short, in just the last few years, the Christian culture in America has become synonymous with intolerance. This is not an isolated view. In the spring of 2018, George Washington University announced it would host a training session about “Christian privilege” and how white Christians receive “unmerited perks from institutions.”
It is clear that the intent of our founding fathers to preserve religious liberty and Christian values is under assault. In fact, the Left is trying to completely eradicate the foundation on which this country was established.
As we celebrate America’s Independence, we would do well to remember the price that was paid to secure our religious freedom. America was designed to be a safe harbor for Christianity. It is up to us to continue that fight for our freedom of conscience and rightful heritage so that it is not stripped away.
Brent Olsson holds a Juris Doctor degree and a BA degree in History. He has practiced law for thirty years specializing in litigation. He has litigated religious liberty issues and has assisted the Alliance Defending Freedom. He has also taught on America’s religious heritage. He is married to Jene’ and they have three children. For additional articles on America’s history and freedoms go to: http://www.facebook.com/Brentolsson
 Robert S. Alley, Editor, Congressional Record of Madison’s Remarks on Constitutional Amendment, James Madison on ReligiousLiberty, (August 15, 1789), 75
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