California is home to 25% of the nation’s homeless population, and its large cities feature open-air drug markets, piles of feces and mountains of trash. However, such pressing issues are clearly not as important to state legislators as ensuring that Christian pastors adhere to politically correct points of view.
The state’s recently passed non-binding resolution seeks to tell members of the clergy what can and can’t be said in sermons in the Golden State. Not surprisingly, the topics that California lawmakers are most concerned about are homosexuality and transgenderism. State lawmakers’ new resolution, titled “Assembly Concurrent Resolution 99”, states that pastors, religious workers, institutions, educators, counselors and those who have “great moral influence” should not tell LGBTQ individuals that something is wrong with their identity or behavior.
The stated “cause for concern” is the fact that the LGBTQ community has a disproportionately high rate of suicides, attempted suicides, and depression. However, the statement is questionable at best. MAP, a pro-LGBTQ think-tank, accurately notes that sexual orientation and gender identity aren’t recorded at time of death, making it impossible to gather accurate data on LGBTQ suicide rates. However, it seems that liberal California lawmakers either haven’t gotten the memo or are simply looking for a pretext to control Christian leaders in their state.
To make matters worse, the resolution is so ambiguous that it could be used to harass literally anyone who doesn’t conform to a far-left agenda. Parents could be said to have “great moral influence” over decisions made by their minor children. Does this mean that mom and dad can’t tell junior that underage gay sex is a bad idea? Does it mean that a counselor can’t tell an individual that certain sexual habits or behaviors are unsafe simply because the person being treated is in a same-sex relationship? What happens if a conservative pastor tells his conservative, 100% heterosexual congregation that he does not believe that same-sex relationships are on par with heterosexual ones? Will the pastor get into trouble even if no LGBTQ community members actually heard the pastor speak?
The most troubling aspect of the bill is not its ambiguity. It’s not even the fact that, as Dr. David Gibbs of the Christian Law Association accurately notes, non-binding resolutions frequently become laws. What is truly troubling about Assembly Concurrent Resolution 99 is the fact that a state government in a supposedly free nation thinks it has the authority to regulate freedom of speech under the pretext of “not offending people”.
The First Amendment makes it clear that individuals living in the United States have the right to think, believe, and say what they please. Infringing on this right in any way, shape or form should be anathema to anyone who values living in a free nation. Once it becomes illegal to “offend” a gay or transgender person, those in authority are sure to find other unhappy demographics whose right “not to be offended” trumps First Amendment Rights.
These legislative efforts to placate the LGBTQ community by disallowing negative comments about the lifestyle are nothing short of reprehensible. While it would be nice if people only said nice things about other people, the truth is that not all lifestyles are equal. Some are safer, healthier and saner than others, and people with influence should have the right to state what they honestly feel about this.