I’ve seen stories circulating about California banning the Bible. I’m also seeing some people sharing links from various websites (none of them are major news sites) talking about this ban.
All of this is in relation to California Assembly Bill 2943, a bill which is related to “sexual orientation change efforts” also known as “conversion therapy,” which are therapeutic methods aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender based on psychological and/or spiritual interventions.
Among the headlines I’m seeing:
“Liberty counsel warning: California about to ban Bible sales”
“One step closer to law: could a California bill ultimately lead to the banning of Bibles?”
“Just in: liberal California lawmakers propose bill to ban sale of Bibles”
“Developing: California pushes bill that appears to ban sale of Bibles.”
There are cries of censorship, violating the first amendment. I’ve seen tweets that show the Nazis burning books.
Since these therapies can be done as commercial business, consumer protection laws would therefore apply.
From the bill:
Courts, including in California, have recognized the practice of sexual orientation change efforts as a commercial service, andservice. Therefore, claims that sexual orientation change efforts are effective in changing an individual’s sexual orientation, may constitute unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business practices under state consumer protection laws. This bill intends to make clear that sexual orientation change efforts are an unlawful practice under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
To say that this law is a ban on the Bible in the Great State of California is a falsehood. To anyone who disagrees with that, show me where it says that?
I feel like there are websites that are writing headlines which misrepresent the facts of this law, for the sake of people clicking on their links. One of the people who’s addressed the law is a man in California who’s running for governor. He’s furthering the myth about what this law does. That seems to be fear mongering.
We need to be intellectually honest. California is not working on passing a law that bans sales of the Bible.
I’ve already said the bill doesn’t explicitly set forth a ban. Where in the bill does it implicitly give the right to make a ban on Bible sales?
I realize that there are some people in this country who are very hostile to Christianity and the Bible. But that doesn’t mean that they’re tyrannical to the point of wanting a ban. And even if a small fringe did want that, it wouldn’t work. This country is 75% Christian.
Also, let’s say that this did happen. How do you ban the sale of Bibles in a state? People have smart phones where they can DOWNLOAD a Bible. People have Amazon where they can order the Bible from another state. There are independent book stores that sell used books. Even closed off countries with totalitarian rulers who try to actually ban Bibles struggle to do that.
But that’s not what is happening.
There are plenty of issues in this country related to religious liberty. California banning the Bible is not one of them.
I do believe there can be people who really do seek counsel for SOCE. I do think that this bill could infringe upon what therapists and counselors are able to do in working with those clients. From that perspective, I do see how there could be an infringement of religious liberties. And that’s an issue. However that’s a different issue than banning Bible sales.
Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.