A new bill could ban some Christian books and teaching

The index Librorum Prohibitorum – the official list of books condemned by the Catholic Church – generally concerned itself with dissident theologians and radical philosophers. In the 20th century, however, it increasingly targeted radical feminists and sexual liberationists, Simone de Beauvoir and André Gide among them.

Pope Paul VI abolished the Index in 1966, but the California state legislature may be preparing to institute one of its own. Assembly Bill 2943 would outlaw “goods or services” intended to “change behaviours or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex”.

Proponents have cast the bill as an effort to curb “conversion therapy”: a pseudo-scientific practice meant to change homosexuals into heterosexuals. But many fear that the bill will be used to silence Christian moral teachings.

Orthodox Christians generally do not distinguish between sex and gender. They might urge those grappling with transgenderism (otherwise known as gender dysphoria) to seek treatment from a mental health professional. This would naturally be viewed by the law as attempting to “change … gender expression”. Likewise, traditional Christians maintain that sex is reserved for a husband and wife. Urging a gay person to abstain from sex, which is a pastoral remit of priests, might be deemed an effort to “change behaviours”.

And the definition of “goods or services” is so broad that it may include books. Critics argue that the bill could lead to a wholesale ban on selling any piece of literature that upholds the most fundamental tenets of Christian sexual morality.

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