Is the Government Banning the Bible in California?

We have seen this before.  It is yet another example of what happens when fear drives evangelical approaches to public life.

In Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, I wrote about the response of some New England congregationalists after the election of Thomas Jefferson.  Because Jefferson did not believe in certain aspects of orthodox Christian belief–the deity of Christ, the resurrection of Jesus, the inspiration of the Bible–many of the region’s evangelicals were afraid of what he might do once he assumed the presidency.  Some thought that Jefferson or his henchman were going to come into their towns on a mission to confiscate Bibles and close churches.

I thought about this story when I read Peter Lawrence Kane’s piece in San Francisco Weekly.  The title says it all: “Evangelicals Convince Themselves California is About to Ban the Bible.”    Here is a taste:

As we’ve documented many times, several strains of conservatism insist — against all evidence to the contrary — that California is an abject failure. It’s usually that we’re teetering on the brink, we’re hopelessly “ungovernable,” or we must be destroyed in order to be saved. Unquestionably, the state faces existential crises that pertain to the cost of living and to the future of the Sierra snowpack that keeps the world’s most productive agricultural region afloat and lets 40 million people flush their toilets. But we never stop hearing the end of the lies and distortions: high environmental standards caused the Mendocino fire complex, it’s a sanctuary state bleeding the federal coffers dry, we’re a corrupting force on Real America, they’re never coming back here and they really really mean it, et cetera, et cetera.

This is largely because of three undeniable facts: California is diverse, California rejects Republicanism and (almost) all that it stands for, and California recovered from the Great Recession to find itself well-prepared to face the next fiscal cliff. Although the Golden State retains the dubious distinction of being the only U.S. state to allow same-sex marriage and then take it away, it’s since become a strong protector of LGBTQ rights — and this week’s top right-wing lie wormed out of the news that California is about to join a dozen other states in banning ex-gay torture — sometimes known as “gay conversion therapy” — for adults. (The state has banned it for minors since 2012.)

In light of the state Senate passing AB 2943, many evangelicals have convinced themselves that California just banned the Bible.

Read the entire piece here.

3 thoughts on “Is the Government Banning the Bible in California?

  1. This kind of lie is pure evil, and it answers the question of why people support Trump.

    For one thing, it is transparently phony. Nobody is banning the Bible, any more than anybody is banning the celebration of Christmas. The argument that California is banning the Bible conflates not forcing harm on an individual with the expression of a general opinion.

    But that’s the thing. When people are taught to believe twisted logic, to accept uncritically the word of charlatans, when they are taught to view fellow citizens not just as people with differing political views, but as people trying to steal the things Christians hold sacred, it Is more damaging than the rankings of an eccentric uncle.

    One effect is it gets people used to believing ludicrous conspiracies, so they lose the ability to think critically. It also makes the opponent so reviled that someone like Trump can be seen as good by comparison.

    For so many decades I sat through church services silently, listening to preachers condemn all sorts of good people. I tried to avoid thinking or doing about it, like an unwanted side effect. But now it has led us to the verge of the unwinding of the rule of law, as Paul Krugman writes today, and going all-in on this spectacularly unfit and morally deficient leader.

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  2. That piece in the SF Weekly is spinning things pretty hard! No, it’s not reasonable to think that AB 2943 will ban the Bible. But it’s wrong to point to this extreme and irrational fear as evidence that fear is driving evangelical opposition to the bill, because there are much more reasonable and still fairly serious reasons to be worried about the bill.

    In particular, AB 2943 doesn’t just ban “gay conversion therapy” (unless we interpret that label very broadly), as the SF Weekly piece claims. It bans “efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex” (that’s from the text of the bill).

    Now, I don’t know how that would (will?) be interpreted by the courts. But it’s pretty reasonable to worry that “efforts to change behaviors” can be construed as including, e.g., the sale of material which promotes celibacy outside of heterosexual marriage. For what it’s worth, I think David French makes the case well that it’s reasonable to worry about something like this (https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/california-bill-threatens-christian-books-and-booksellers/).

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