Summit Ministries, headquartered in Manitou Springs, Colorado, has helped Christian adolescents and younger adults harness their faith in everyday life for more than 50 years. During this span, the organization has trained approximately 500,000 young Christian believers for leadership roles in their families, churches, communities, and country.
The organization was scheduled to hold a conference this summer at Biola University, an institute for higher learning in the Los Angeles area. Sadly, due to AB2943, a bill recently approved by the California Assembly, Summit Ministries has been compelled to scratch the event.
The bill aims to introduce regulations into California’s Business and Professions Code that would subject goods and services “offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual” to penalties and fines. AB2943 deems these goods and services as deceptive business practices. The bill, expected to be taken up and passed by California’s Senate, consists of a ban on “efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”
Responding to the cancellation of the summer conference, Summit Ministries President Jeff Myers said, “Summit’s program helps students develop an intelligent, defensible Christian worldview before they go to college. Our speakers are leading Christian experts who base their presentations on theology as well as sociology, psychology and science. But the wording of AB2943 is a dog whistle to the left that intelligent Christians holding traditional views are fair game for discrimination, smears and frivolous lawsuits.”
The Christian organization’s canceled event would possibly have breached AB2943 due to its itinerary. The schedule comprised defenders of the traditional view of marriage between one man and one woman, and those who support exclusively pursuing sexual activities sanctioned by the Bible.
Myers stated that students at previous conferences have made inquiries to Summit staff members concerning how to tackle uncertainty about sexual attraction and gender identity regarding their Christian faith. A concerned Myers said, “What are we going to say to a young person experiencing sexual confusion? That the state of California forbids us from allowing a biblical ethic embraced by billions of people for thousands of years to inform our answer?”
The President of Summit Ministries went on to say, “California state authorities are hijacking good-faith concerns about reparative therapy to deny constitutional protection to those who hold traditional views of sexuality and marriage. We cannot and will not bend God’s truth to accommodate the state of California.”
Myers called AB2943 “the most blatant chilling of free speech in America” in his lifetime.
Despite the canceled conference in California, Summit Ministries still plans to hold events this summer in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. The President of this Christian organization said, “We are grieved that it has come to this, but we simply cannot put our students, staff and faculty at risk. We are still free to present our conferences in 49 states – and we are grateful for that. Now is the time for Californians to rise up and challenge their representatives to respect biblical values.”
In recent years, the California Assembly has seemingly worked overtime to stifle the First Amendment with regards to religious matters. In 2012, this legislative body outlawed conversion therapy for minors. AB2943 would extend this ban to adults. The California Assembly has also recently attempted to force pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise California’s “free or low-cost” abortion services.
In March of 2018, the United States Supreme Court listened to arguments in the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra case. The law the case involves mandates facilities licensed to offer pregnancy tests and ultrasounds to “disseminate a notice to all clients . . . stating, among other things, that California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services, prenatal care, and abortion, for eligible women.”
Pro-life pregnancy centers must conspicuously display the notice at their locations and in their marketing materials. The ominous law goes so far as to command a particular size of font to be utilized.
Christians should pray that AB2943 will never become a law, and that the Supreme Court will overturn the law requiring pregnancy centers in California to advertise the state’s abortion services.
~ 1776 Christian