On Tuesday, lawmakers in California listened to arguments on a proposed resolution that some California Christians believe would infringe on their religious liberties, according to CBN News.
The resolution, titled Assembly Concurrent Resolution 99 (ACR99) and authored by Evan Low (D-San Jose), “calls upon all Californians to embrace the individual and social benefits of family and community acceptance [of LGBTQ matters]…” and to “counsel on LGBTQ matters from a place of love, compassion, and knowledge of the psychological and other harms of conversion therapy.”
But many religious leaders believe the language in the resolution may condemn those with an opposing view.
“ACR discriminates against perfectly rational adults who seek an alternate viewpoint to the gay-affirming counseling many of them have already tried and found wanting,” Russell Willingham, executive director of New Creation Ministries said. “I believe ACR99 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.”
Jonathan Keller, California Family Council President, agrees. “California Christians love our neighbors who identify as LGBTQ,” he said. “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.”
Not all religious leaders feel this way, however. Dan Carroll, pastor of the Water of Life Community Church, reached out to the LGBTQ caucus to discuss the resolution. “It’s not a law,” he shared. “That’s really important to say. Nobody’s being forced to do anything. It’s a suggestion.”
“The thing that we agreed with the LGBTQ caucus on was that we are not for any kind of coercive behavior on the part of leaders or counselors or pastors,” he continued. “And as we shared with the LGBTQ caucus, we don’t know anybody in California, that’s Christian that is actually doing what they’re suggesting that we’re doing.”
Even still, formerly gay Californians believe the resolution is “discriminatory” towards people who followed their faith away from a homosexual lifestyle. The resolution would encourage pastors and counselors to persuade those with an unwanted same-sex attraction not to change.
In a petition letter against the resolution, Willingham argued, “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.” Over 1,500 pastors, medical doctors, psychologists, attorneys, and other leaders have signed the letter.
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Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine. She blogs at mikaelamathews.com.