There is a cogent argument to be made that a bill that passed in the California Assembly, AB 2943, could be used as a weapon to ban religious books.
That argument is being made by National Review’s David French, who explained last week:
Assembly Bill 2943 would make it an “unlawful business practice” to engage in “a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” that advertise, offer to engage in, or do engage in “sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”
As Catholic World Report notes:
“Orientation change” can be as innocuous as stating at a paid conference that homosexual and transgender desire can be overcome (not necessarily eliminated) by the Spirit of Jesus. Or even complying with an attendee’s request for prayer that the Spirit of God empower the attendee not to succumb to the power of same-sex attractions.
The bill then defines “sexual orientations change efforts” as “any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” (Emphasis added.)
This is extraordinarily radical. Christian orthodoxy is simple — regardless of a person’s desires (their “orientation”), the standard of right conduct is crystal clear. Sex is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman. When it comes to “gender expression,” there is no difference between “sex” and “gender,” and the Christian response to gender dysphoria is compassion and treatment, not indulgence and surgical mutilation.
This week, French went further, delineating how the process of banning books would work:
First, the bill by its own terms applies to very broad categories of services and goods. Here’s the key enabling language:
1770. (a) The following unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices undertaken by any person in a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer are unlawful:
Second, a book (along with other written materials, like pamphlets or workbooks) fits within the very, very broad definition of a goods: tangible chattels bought or leased for use primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, including certificates or coupons exchangeable for these goods, and including goods that, at the time of the sale or subsequently, are to be so affixed to real property as to become a part of real property, whether or not they are severable from the real property.
Basically, if you can buy it and move it (in other words, it’s not real estate), then it’s a good. Moreover, under the statute, “services” can include “services furnished in connection with the sale or repair of goods.” Booksellers provide “services.”
… Scroll down through the list of dozens of prohibited acts, and you’ll come to paragraph 28, which bans: “Advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.” … If parents faced a child who was identifying as a person of the opposite sex, then services and goods making the argument that, for example, they should persist in calling their daughter “she” and withhold life-altering hormone treatment in part because most children exhibiting symptoms of gender dysphoria desist would violate this statute.