Bozell & Graham Column: California Demands Christians 'Evolve'

California has a hallowed, but questionable reputation as the birthplace of the radical “Free Speech Movement” on the campus of the University of California. Today, they’re not just shutting down conservative speakers on the Berkeley campus. The state’s Democrats may pass a law to shut down religious speech and create a statewide LGBT “safe space.” 

There’s a new legislative proposal banning all “conversion therapy” as a fraudulent business practice – not just by mental-health providers, but by anyone. Since the “independent fact checkers” are quick to swarm around conservative “misinformation,” FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, and Snopes have all cried “False” at the idea that this bill is a threat to the sale of the Bible. 

They declared that threat against Bible sales is nowhere in the text of Assembly Bill 2943, offered by gay legislator Evan Low. That is correct...on its face. It doesn’t mention the Bible. 

However, the bill would amend the state’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, adding the ability to sue for damages for “advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.” Any effort to change someone’s sexual orientation “in a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer are unlawful.” That’s more than therapy. It’s any kind of an argument.

Conservative and Christian lawyers see this proposal as dangerously broad. In National Review, David French called it a “dramatic infringement on First Amendment rights.” He was alarmed at the language that defines newly unlawful “sexual orientation change efforts” as including “efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” 

We know whose expression this bill is designed to curtail.  Leftist legislators were not subtle. One spouted it was time for legislation to nudge the “faith community” to “evolve with the times.”

In its “Mostly False” verdict, PolitiFact dismissively guessed “If the law had any impact at all, it would be on those occasions when a Bible is sold in conjunction with a program to change someone’s sexual orientation....with millions of Bibles sold in California, the weight of evidence suggests the bill might only touch a fraction of them.”

So if a “fraction” of conservative Christians get sued for selling the Bible or similar books, will the “fact checkers” apologize....after the bill gets signed and becomes law? 

It’s risky for “fact checkers” to make bold claims of True or False when people make predictions during policy debates. Their crystal-ball evaluations seem largely designed to “correct” (read: intimidate) conservatives from making predictions about the future. What happens when predictions come true?

This one-sided “fact checking” goes back to 1992, when liberal journalists suggested President George H.W. Bush was “lying” when he predicted Bill Clinton would raise taxes. Clinton was elected, and the next year he signed the largest tax hike in American history. 

“Fact checkers” also threw flags when conservatives charged premiums were “skyrocketing” under Obamacare. PolitiFact decided that the 2013 “Lie of the Year” was Obama proclaiming for years “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” under Obamacare. But in 2009 and 2012, they rated that as “Half True.” Oops.

Now imagine that instead of California allowing gay activists to sue for damages over any echo of “conversion therapy,” they allowed consumers who lost their insurance plan under Obamacare to sue PolitiFact for fraudulent fact-checking. It’s unlikely the fact-checkers would rush to defend it. They would see it as.... “a dramatic infringement of First Amendment rights.”


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