California bill already chilling religious expression

California bill already chilling religious expression, by Bonnie Pritchett.

The California state legislature’s latest effort to outlaw Biblical views on sex, marriage, and gender identity appears to have claimed its first casualty. Citing concerns over possible legal repercussions from a pending bill, Colorado-based Summit Ministries has canceled a summer conference at Biola University in the Los Angeles area.

“The vagueness of the bill has opened up threats to religious communities that the author did not intend,” Biola communications director Brenda Velasco told me.

Assembly Bill 2943 amends the state Consumer Legal Remedies Act by outlawing “sexual orientation change efforts” under the state’s consumer fraud law. It labels as fraud any financial transaction of goods or services that promote “sexual orientation change efforts.”

Summit Ministries’ summer workshops target 16- to 25-year-olds and address cultural issues from a Biblical perspective, including God’s design for sex and marriage. Critics of the proposed law fear such discussions in any forum where participants pay to attend, like the Summit Ministries conference, could put the host organization at risk of a lawsuit.

Typically, about 200 participants attend the California conference, Jeff Myers, president of Summit Ministries, told me. Only 79 had enrolled for the June event at Biola when Myers pulled the plug and reassigned participants to conferences in other states. …

“What if I’m speaking at a camp, and I’m not telling them to change their [sexual] orientation, but I’m asking people to not act upon their attractions,” Christopher Yuan, a frequent Summit speaker, told me. “It might fall under this bill and be considered illegal.”

hat-tip Stephen Neil