The California Assembly has passed a resolution calling on faith leaders in the state to affirm homosexuality and refrain from counseling anyone that change through Christ is possible. It is now headed to the Democrat-heavy State Senate.
Assembly Concurrent Resolution-99 proclaims that the state's legislators have "found that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming." Further, it "calls upon religious leaders with conviction to counsel on LGBT matters from a place of love, compassion, and knowledge of the psychological and other harms of conversion therapy."
While it doesn't outright ban biblical counseling, Pastor Ken Williams – himself a former homosexual – told a state legislative committee it is an assault on religious liberty.
"What's scary for me is that 200-plus years into America's development of its freedoms that we would be now moving to support one viewpoint so strongly that we would actually erode convictions," said the pastor.
Christian author and columnist Dr. Michael L. Brown writes that "if ever there was an overstepping of the separation of Church and State," ACR-99 would be it.
"In short, this bill would state that pastors and Christian counselors do not have the right to walk out their faith and live out their biblical convictions. It would stop them from offering the fullness of the Gospel to people with unwanted same-sex attractions and gender identity confusion. And it would constitute, in no uncertain terms, a frontal assault on their – and our – religious liberties." (Read more …)
The resolution's sponsor, Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low, countered that the measure has "a number of leaders within the evangelical community [who] had articulated their support of the notion that individuals should be loved and celebrated as who they are." Chief among those is a past president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Kevin Mannoia, who is now a chaplain for Azusa Pacific University. Mannoia testified before an Assembly Committee on June 20 in favor of ACR-99.
Attorney Roger Gannam of Liberty Counsel says it was a surprise Mannoia wrote a letter and then testified for the resolution.
"It's one thing to say that he wants there to be a good dialogue and that it should be respectful and respect the dignity of people," Gannam tells OneNewsNow. "We would all agree with that – but to actually indicate support for this resolution was a big surprise and very, very disappointing."
Pastor Williams begged the Assembly not to pass the resolution. "Assemblyman Low, you may have the votes to pass this," he said, "but I don't believe that you have the right to presuppose people's consciences or to tell them what they need to believe."
Elizabeth Woning of the ex-"gay" ministry Equipped to Love says what bothers her the most about the resolution is its damage to the reputation of Christ in the community. "It flatly blames Christianity for the stigma and especially high suicide rate among LGBT teens – and so it really maligns Christ," she shares. "That's my biggest concern: it's going to influence how people feel about the Christian faith."
Liberty Counsel's Gannam shares Woning's concerns about ACR-99. "It … recites a falsehood that church leaders and religious organizations are responsible for high suicide rates and high rates of depression and anxiety among people who identify as LGBT," he argues. "So the resolution is really based on a false premise to start with."
Gannam notes that the committee also heard from people stressing they left the homosexual and transgender lifestyles through God's grace.
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