California Assemblyman Evan Low and three dozen other lawmakers are pushing a resolution in the state Assembly Judiciary Committee that's aimed at telling religious leaders in California what they should preach from their pulpits.
The California Family Council reports that Assembly Concurrent Resolution 99 (ACR 99) calls on "counselors, pastors, religious workers, educators" and institutions with "great moral influence" to stop perpetuating the idea that something is wrong with LGBT identities or sexual behavior. ACR 99 also condemns attempts to change unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion as "unethical," "harmful," and leading to high rates of suicide.
Two formerly gay individuals, Pastors Ken Williams and Elizabeth Woning, argue against the resolution, calling it "discriminatory" against people like themselves, who overcame suicidal thoughts by following their faith away from their LGBT identities. They now lead a ministry called Equipped to Love that helps others like them to find health and wholeness.
"For us, walking out our faith with biblical conviction means life and hope. Our faith has saved us from suicide and given us freedom to live with clear consciences," Woning said.
"We too would like to be acknowledged and affirmed...Instead, activists attack our efforts to care for like-minded friends by promoting dangerous counseling restrictions and stifling our free speech," she added.
Williams feels the same way. "For years, I believed that even God hated me because of my behavior," he said. "But in my early 20s, I encountered a God who loved me despite my sins and temptations. Today, I love my life. I have been married to my beautiful wife for 13 years, and we have created four incredible children together. To someone like me, California Assemblyman Evan Low's proposed resolution, ACR-99, feels like an unfair and direct attack."
Despite Low's claim that this resolution has the support of some California religious leaders, other pastors and religious leaders with a traditional view on gender and sexuality are publicly opposing ACR 99.
Besides Woning who wrote, "The Not So Subtle Discrimination of ACR-99," and Williams who wrote, "Controlled by the State," ordained pastoral counselor Pastor Joe Dallas published, "Pride of Ownership," in which he argues, "While warning against the dangers of so-called Conversion Therapy, ACR 99 restricts much more than counseling, which attempts to change internal sexual responses."
"It, in fact, dictates to pastors that they cannot teach that homosexuality is a sin, nor can they encourage homosexually-attracted people who hold a traditional Biblical view to live in accordance with their own faith," Dallas added.
A coalition of professional counselors, doctors, attorneys, and faith-based non-profits, have also signed onto a letter pointing out the resolution's inaccuracies and its threats to basic liberty. "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," writes the coalition.
The letter goes on to provide proof that traditional faiths are not the cause for high suicide rates among those identifying as LGBT. It points out, "Professional organizations agree that same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria are not simply biologically caused, they often change." And "contrary to misrepresentations, therapists who are open to a client's goal of change use non-aversive, well-established mainstream practices and evidence-based treatments for trauma and addictions used by professional therapists worldwide."
A comment in the letter emphasizes seeking assistance from traditional therapists, pastors, and faith-based ministries who can help with unwanted homosexuality and gender dysphoria.
The letter concludes by expressing "grave concern that Assemblyman Low's resolution, like the discriminatory guilds he references, privileges sexual and gender minorities of so-called 'progressive' values and goals at the expense of those of traditional values and goals. It is unconstitutional to strip any person of any First Amendment freedoms, and it is inhumane to prohibit individuals from addressing their own personal pain and desire for healing and change."
One News Now reports that Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, outlines ACR-99 as "an outrageous violation of the state deciding to pressure what pastors teach and preach as they minister to individuals who are struggling with same-sex attraction or gender identity issues."
CBN News previously reported on Christian therapy saving lives: "I walked out of a Christian bookstore suicidal when I was 17 because they didn't have any books to help me. Thank God I found a counselor who was able to partner with me in my choice to not live according to my same-sex desires," shared Ken Williams, a pastor at Bethel Church and a former homosexual.
Another man, Edward Byrd, said, "I didn't know I could have freedom. How will people know they can get out of this lifestyle?" he asks. "I know people in the lifestyle now who don't know a way out."