Yes, California’s AB 2943 could criminalize preaching the Gospel; and no, you shouldn’t trust Snopes’s ‘fact-check’ to the contrary

One of my social media pet peeves is when people think they’ve won a point in an online debate by posting a link to Snopes. They think that Snopes is an authoritative arbiter of fact and truth, and that if they can point out that Snopes said this or that with respect to the question at hand, that settles the matter.

That is utter nonsense. Snopes is like every other “fact-check” operation, which is to say it’s not a fact-check operation at all. Snopes is an opinion site that does research designed to back up its opinions. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you’re honest about the fact that you’re an opinion writer. Everyone knows that’s what I do here and on Herman’s site. I write my opinions.

But people think Snopes a) has no agenda; b) never misrepresents the results of its research; and c) actually understands all the issues on which it opines, er, sorry, “fact-checks.”

None of those things are true. And that has rarely been as clearly demonstrated as with Snopes’s embarrassing take on California Assembly Bill 2943. You may have heard that this bill could result in the sale of the Bible being banned. That is a stretch, at least directly, but AB 2943 absolutely could be used to impose legal sanctions on pastors who preach the biblical teaching on homosexuality, and especially on pastors who try to help people struggling with this issue to reach deliverance on it.

AB 2943 essentially bans any attempt to change another person’s sexual orientation. If you don’t see the obvious jeopardy that portends for Christian pastors, you’re neither thinking nor paying attention. Yet Snopes goes merrily on its way insisting that AB 2943 poses no such problem for those who preach the Gospel.

That has rightly brought a devastating rebuke from Robert Gagnon at The Federalist:

Snopes then heavily shades the truth: “What is clear is that Low’s bill does not seek to outlaw all religious or moral instruction regarding sexuality and sexual orientation.” How much stress is being placed on the “all”? Even Snopes cannot say that it will not outlaw “some or most religious or moral instruction regarding sexuality and sexual orientation.”

Yet Snopes is not willing to highlight that as a point in its discussion. The emphasis is on the narrative: Keep walking, nothing disturbing here for religious folk. The salient point is that nothing in the bill would prevent the state from outlawing all religious or moral instruction that seeks to change homosexual behavior and transgender identity. The only limitation on the state is its own self-policed chutzpah regarding “LGBTQ” coercion.

Read the bill. There is no religious exemption. There is no restriction to mental health professionals. There is not even a restriction to claims about changing a person’s sexual orientation or transgender feelings in whole or part. The bill is quite clear that any “efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions” are included in the ban on attempts to change a person’s “sexual orientation.”

So you would be violating the law if you advertise that Christ can empower people not to engage in homosexual practice or not to identify as “gay” or “transgender” because such behaviors and self-identities are morally wrong, or if you offer to engage or actually engage in efforts to persuade people of Christ’s power to transform in this area, you will be in violation of California AB 2943, at least so long as your advertising or efforts involved in any way an exchange of money for goods or services.

Consequently, selling religious or secular books (pamphlets, videos, audios, etc.), holding conferences, teaching courses in a college or seminary where tuition is paid, giving a speech at a paid venue, counseling people for a fee, or perhaps even posting online articles in a site that requires a paid subscription, in which it is asserted (in whole or part) that it is morally wrong for people to engage in homosexual practice or identify as “gay” or “transgender,” all could be treated as a violation of California Assembly Bill 2943.

This reminds me of when Sarah Palin talked about ObamaCare death panels, and “fact-checkers” like Snopes insisted, “The bill makes no mention of death panels.”

Of course it doesn’t, Sherlock. You had to understand the workings of the Independent Payments Advisory Board to know why Palin called them death panels. When all you do is read simple text and say, “I see mention of it,” you don’t even understand how legislation works well enough to call yourself a fact-checker.

The same applies here. Of course the bill makes no mention of Christianity. It could never pass judicial muster if it did, and probably would be a bridge too far politically even in nutty California.

The secular left is establishing homosexuality as sacrosanct as a way of launching a back-door attack on Christianity. Fine, you can preach your Gospel. But you can’t say there’s anything wrong with being gay! That’s discrimination!

Of course, you can’t preach the whole Gospel if you leave out any part of what Scripture teaches. So these laws force Christian preachers to make a decision between teaching all of God’s word and risking legal sanction, or only teaching the parts of it politicians will allow and failing in their ministries.

This is exactly how the secular left is using homosexuality as a blunt force object against the Christian faith. It’s setting up opposition to homosexual practices as the legal and moral equivalent of Jim Crow laws that discriminated against black people. Refusing to embrace homosexuality is the same as segregating the lunch counter, and needs to bring the same legal sanction.

But no one’s outlawing Christianity!

Of course you are. You’re just doing it indirectly. And the pastor who believes in spiritual deliverance is in even bigger legal jeopardy because he would have a duty to try to help a person be free of this sin. Yet if he actually tries to do so, he’s breaking the law.

No matter what Snopes says.

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Powers and Principalities (2009): Twenty years ago, Clay Bender saw the face of spiritual evil with the naked eye while attending a party. Now, Clay’s terrifying spiritual gift returns, showing him that a supernatural threat is looming – one that could threaten everyone in Royal Oak. As the community grapples with bizarre electrical disturbances and a horrible train derailment, only Clay can recognize the true nature of the strange events, and he and his two closest friends have little time to battle the city’s demons – even as all three are forced to face their own. (Buy Now button for signed hard copy: $15.99. Amazon button for digital download: $2.99)

Pharmakeia (2010): Kyla Spears is being warned – in terrifying dreams – of grisly and violent tragedies looming for young people in Royal Oak. But her spiritually gifted friend Clay Bender is reluctant to help, and her feelings for one charming young man threaten her newfound spiritual integrity and her ability to face the truth about what’s really behind the threat. (Buy Now button for signed hard copy: $15.99. Amazon button for digital download: $2.99)


Dark Matter (2011): The miraculous resurrection of a young man is caught on video and broadcast to the nation, bringing the spotlight to Murphy Soles and a group of people who claim to be able to heal using a mysterious spiritual force they call the Dark Matter.  But Clay Bender can see that the phenomenon is demonic, and he is forced to race against time and battle his best friend to expose the deception and save the lives of thousands. (Buy Now button for signed hard copy: $15.99. Amazon button for digital download: $2.99)

Backstop (2017): Darius Wilson’s preacher father has always envisioned his son as his successor in the pulpit. Darius has another passion, though – baseball. And when the Detroit Tigers draft him, Darius defies his father and heads to Lakeland, Florida to pursue his dream. But what Darius has learned since childhood about the spiritual forces of evil comes into play when he realizes that Lakeland is home to a very dark presence. And without his father’s help, Darius may not have what it takes to fend off a threat that could bring tragedy to the entire Tigers organization. (Buy Now button for signed hard copy: $15.99. Amazon button for digital download: $2.99)