On Tuesday, California legislators conducted a hearing on a resolution passed in June that condemns those not affirming the LGBTQ lifestyle and requires all Californians to embrace the unbiblical behavior as hereditary. But before the hearing, a group of pastors penned a response arguing the directive threatens the constitutional rights of Christians seeking to counsel those in the LGBTQ community.
Authored by Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 99 (ACR 99) declares Christians’ attempts to counsel LGBTQ individuals immoral and blames the emotional problems pervasively experienced by those adhering to such lifestyles on the faith community’s unwillingness to embrace such behavior.
“California law recognizes that [leading medical, mental health and child welfare organizations in the United States reject] performing conversion therapy on young persons [a]s ineffective, unethical, and harmful,” Low’s resolution reads. “The stigma associated with being LGBTQ often created by groups in society – including therapists and religious groups – has caused disproportionately high rates of suicide, attempted suicide, depression, rejection and isolation amongstLGBTQ and questioning individuals.”
It goes on to claim that the State is trying to protect the LGBTQ community from the Church, parents and others who do not embrace those engaging in the alternative lifestyle that is condemned in the Bible.
“The State of California has a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors, including LGBTQ youth, and in protecting its minors against exposure to serious harms caused by family rejection and attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity,” the document continues.
“In a pluralistic society, people differing along spectrums of political and religious perspectives share a common responsibility of protecting the health and well-being of all children and vulnerable communities.”
Not so fast …
New Creation Ministries executive director Russell Willingham penned an opposition letter signed by 1,500 Christians – including pastors, medical doctors, psychologists, constitutional attorneys, counselors and public policy organization leaders – and posted it Sunday in response to the controversial resolution.
In an interview, Willingham argued that the pro-LGBTQ resolution does not allow Californians the free exercise of religion guaranteed to all citizens by the U.S. Constitution.
"ACR 99 discriminates against perfectly rational adults who seek an alternate viewpoint to the gay-affirming counseling many of them have already tried and found wanting," Willingham contended, according to the Christian Post (CP).
"I believe ACR 99 sets the stage for future laws that will criminalize pastor caregivers like me who provide such a resource – resources that offer an option for those who don't want what the state is telling them they must accept."
California Family Council president Jonathan Keller argued that even though Low and other LGBTQ activists proclaim to promote tolerance and inclusion, they demonstrate the height of intolerance while demanding that all around them – including those with opposing beliefs – conform to their brand of morality.
"California Christians love our neighbors who identify as LGBTQ," Keller asserted, according to CP. "Sadly, it appears Assemblyman Low and other intolerant legislators will not stop until people of faith publicly celebrate the legislature's preferred concept of sexual orientation and gender identity."
National Center for Law and Policy president Dean Broyles said Low’s resolution will eventually turn California into a police state targeting those who do not conform with politically correct LGBTQ ideals.
"This resolution will not foster or promote the classic liberal ideals of authentic tolerance, diversity, or inclusion – it will crush them and destroy them," Broyles warned, as quoted in CP’s report.
"ACR 99 represents a misguided authoritarian attempt to coercively mold the beliefs of California's citizens regarding controversial and sensitive issues on human sexuality, and thus will only serve to chill and suppress the freedom of thought, speech, conscience and religion of our citizens – safeguarded by the First Amendment."
Practice the tolerance you preach
In lieu of Tuesday’s hearing, a number people able to break free from the LGBTQ lifestyle condemned Low’s declaration that was passed over the summer.
“[S]everal formerly gay individuals gave their arguments against the resolution calling it ‘discriminatory’ against people like them who overcame suicidal thoughts by following their faith away from their LGBTQ lifestyles,” CP noted.
Willingham’s letter dated Sunday makes it clear that Low’s resolution pushes as fact many assertions that have been debated and proven false by physicians and the faith community alike.
“ACR 99 by Assembly member Low … seeks to take away the freedom to give or receive assistance for sexual attraction or gender identity change,” Willingham states in the opening of his letter backed by 1,500 signatures. “People should have the freedom to pursue what brings them true happiness and joy; ACR 99 is trying to cut people off from their own pathway to happiness.”
He contended that the resolution declares Californians’ religious beliefs wrong … something that must be rejected.
“This resolution tells Californians of many religions that their faith is unacceptable to the state,” Willingham pointed out. “Politicians are telling California churches, synagogues and mosques what they should and should not teach, and claiming Californians of traditional faiths cause health disparities.”
The Christian leader also refuted Low’s claim that individuals not affirming LGBTQ behavior cause those immersed in such lifestyles psychological problems.
“Traditional faiths are not the cause of health disparities in sexual orientation or gender identity diverse individuals as Assemblyman Low and others simply presume,” Willingham asserted.
“National research and research done conjointly by both affirmative and change-allowing researchers together finds that individuals who experience same-sex attraction and live according to their traditional religious faiths are no less happy or healthy than individuals in liberal faiths or no faith who live out an LGBT identity.”