With “Pride Month” coming to an end, California is pushing a resolution that seeks to control the language churches use surrounding the LGBTQ community. ACR 99 would encourage “counselors, Pastors, religious workers, educators, and institutions to stop labeling homosexuality and transgenderism a ‘sin’ saying it’s ‘harmful’ and ‘unethical.'”
Opponents to the resolution are citing First Amendment freedom of religion violations, with others – like California Pastor Shane Idleman – protesting the state’s mandatory interpretation of the Bible and God’s Word.
“When I read the actual statement it was alarming because California is now telling us what is best and what does God’s Word say and what God’s Word doesn’t say, and as a pastor, though that’s what we have to look at,” Idleman said in an interview. “That’s what going on as the foundation of God’s truth, what was true thousands of years ago is true today.”
He went further to claim that the state of California is “trying to silence the pulpit.”
Watch the video below:
President of Union Theological Seminary in New York, Dr. Serene Jones, has a different view of the Resolution, suggesting that it doesn’t dictate religious speech from the church. Instead, she says it is merely “encouragement” for churches to monitor the way they discuss LGBTQ issues and people.
“No one is going to be storming into pulpits and telling people they have to stop saying those things,” she claims. “But it is saying, based on what we know psychologically, this is a very serious issue.”
The Resolution reads, in part:
“This measure would call upon all Californians to embrace the individual and social benefits of family and community acceptance, upon religious leaders with conviction to counsel on LGBT LGBTQ matters from a place of love, compassion, and knowledge of the psychological and other harms of conversion therapy, and on upon the people of California and the institutions of California with great moral influence to model equitable treatment of all people of the state.”
These “encouragements” seem to be based on another part of the legislation, which states that “professional associations of mental and physical health recognize that being LGBTQ is part of natural variations that occur in sexual orientation and gender identity, and recommend responsive services that foster self-acceptance and skills to cope with social stigma and discrimination.” It doesn’t appear to leave any room for discussion on whether a person can or should undergo religious counseling to help them cope with their sexual urges. To the contrary, the language seems to only support acceptance of both the person and the lifestyle.
Dr. Jones also failed to address Fox News host Lauren Green’s question about whether the Resolution is even Constitutional, which many argue it is not. Instead, she stated that rather than counsel people away from homosexual urges, she chooses to “celebrate” the LGBTQ lifestyle. She goes on to state that “churches that say you cannot be Christian and be who you are can have devastating consequences on people.”
Idleman argues that Dr. Serene Jones is “validating sin” and “removing clear teachings in scripture,” and that one can “struggle with same-sex attraction and be a Christian,” but cannot fully embrace the lifestyle while claiming the mantle of Christianity.
While the Resolution does not argue for any punishments against those who don’t adhere to its suggestions, it will be interesting to see if it holds up under Constitutional scrutiny, or if it violates Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion should it end up being passed. Either way, California will have a battle on its hands.
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