A Letter from Bethel to Friends & Members of the LGBTQ+ Community

To friends and members of the LGBTQ+ community who have been concerned by Bethel Church’s recent public statements.

My name is Elizabeth Woning. I co-lead (alongside Ken Williams) a Christian ministry called Equipped to Love. I’m a member of Bethel Church and I’ve been invited by its leadership to share my thoughts here and speak on their behalf because of my background in the LGBTQ+ community.

There is pending legislation (Assembly Bill 2943) that focuses upon therapies addressing sexuality. In that matter, our congregation aligns with the heartfelt desire to protect all those who identify as LGBTQ+, but this legislation reaches far past those protections into free speech and free choice. For that reason our leadership took a very great risk to speak out.

You see, Bethel’s congregation pursues God for all types of miracles as reflected in Scripture. People come from around the world to receive prayer because of that core value. Bethel has concern that this legislation could be construed to limit testimonies of the impossible, the unlikely, and especially the unusual power of a good God to answer prayer, which is offered through Christian faith.

While standing firm on Biblical principles, Bethel has always cultivated an atmosphere of worship and adoration of Jesus. Bethel Music unites Christians from different congregations across the world. We are committed to honoring and respecting one another where differences of opinion could cause offense, valuing relationship for the sake of our community. Members of the LGBTQ+ community have worshipped among us for years.

I'm here in the middle, standing as one who spent meaningful years as a lesbian living among gay people in the LGBTQ+ community. My faith journey exposed areas of my life that were painful and unresolved. My gay and lesbian friends supported me for years in my journey to find peace. Without their care and concern I might not be here today. Nevertheless, only the love of Jesus brought me wholeness. My journey with Him led me away from lesbianism. Fundamentally, the power of the Christian gospel, being “born again,” leads to transformation and change. My attractions to women slowly dissipated as I embraced my born-again identity. Today I am married to my husband of 13 years.

By making a stand against this bill, Bethel acknowledges my experience is not isolated. While seeking to embrace and love all people, they have chosen to honor those whose paths have been similar to mine. Few with my experience speak publically. During the years I embraced lesbianism, in the 80s-00s, it was risky to openly be a lesbian. I attended a Presbyterian seminary “out” in an era that was rare. But today it is just as risky and misunderstood to have left that lifestyle.

In fact, there are many who experience same sex attraction but do not identify as LGBTQ+. In their core they do not feel that is who they are. This “questioning” people group seeks greater self-understanding and clarity in their identity through counseling and various resources. Bethel desires to protect these deeply personal faith journeys, no matter how the individual identifies, in order to protect free will.

Our heart is to love and honor all people, even if they disagree with our beliefs. We as a church want to continue to be a safe place for everyone seeking God. Because of this, I am reaching out to NorCal OUTreach for the sake of creating dialogue and understanding, but especially to create safety for the LGBTQ+ community. We value and honor men like Armando Mejorado whose courage and commitment are making a difference in Redding. Humbly I ask that we do something unique in Redding by fostering unity and respect in the midst of disagreement.

Elizabeth Woning
Co-Founder, Equipped to Love (equippedtolove.com)
With Support of Bethel Leadership

Elizabeth Woning is co-founder of Equipped To Love, a ministry at Bethel Church in Redding, California, that empowers the body of Christ to compassionately engage sexual and gender identity. She holds a Masters in Theology and is an ordained pastor. Elizabeth teaches at the Bethel School of Ministry. She and her husband, Doug, live in Redding, California.

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108 Responses

  1. Aleeta Stamn says:

    I’m having a hard time finding anything meaningful in this vague propaganda piece. This legislation (aside from protecting young people under 18 who are subject to parental pressure and adults not legally able to make their own decisions) does not prohibit Bethel from conducting this form of “therapy” on consenting adults. It simply prohibits anyone from benefitting financially from those services. In other words, it’s all about money.

    In addition to the potential for being extremely harmful, there is no actual evidence that gay aversion therapy works. People who are bi-sexual and can live their lives in either world may be held up as evidence of a “cure”. Others who try to meet their family and church’s expectations by marrying members of the opposite sex and even having children are usually forced to leave misery and devastation in their wake at some point when they can no longer keep up the pretense.

    https://www.livescience.com/25082-gay-conversion-therapy-facts.html

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      What makes you think that Bethel is engaged in “gay aversion therapy”? I haven’t seen that put up in lights anywhere. It’s clear from Ms. Woning’s website—especially on the Resources (for a price) page—that conversion/transformation from homosexuality is the goal, but I see nothing hinting at aversion training.

    • The correct terminology is conversion or reparative therapy, which can include the use of aversion therapy, say, putting a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it every time you get aroused by a man (in my case). I haven’t read any accounts of Bethel using aversion therapy. They seem to focus on finding some incident in a person’s childhood that “turned” them gay. They may use hypnosis and trace techniques. I’m certain the laying on of hands is involved.

      • Aleeta Stamn says:

        Steve, I tried to post this class further down the page, but didn’t manage to get the entire link in. I think any religious organization that refers to being gay as a “perversion” and equates it to pornography is by definition engaging in “aversion”. If it includes the standard Old Testament (from which this attitude is derived) threats of eternal hellfire or being an abomination in the sight of “god”, it is making use of an obvious aversion tactic. Just the claim that being gay is a sin or illness people need to be “cured” of or delivered from is enough to qualify. Bethel’s premise on this subject is harmful, and out of keeping with every legitimate study and the entire legitimate medical community.

        https://krisvallotton.com/step-out-from-the-crowd-of-cowards/

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          Aleeta — You’re playing loose with the meaning of “aversion therapy,” which has a narrower technical definition than what you describe. I don’t think Bethel’s practices resemble the aversion programming from “A Clockwork Orange.”

          • Aleeta Stamn says:

            I certainly hope not, but I don’t think it needs to be quite that extreme to produce some of the same harmful effects. I would have trouble using terms like “reparative therapy” (the apparent preference of its proponents), since that implies this is addressing something broken that needs to be fixed. Even “conversion therapy” is too benign given the intent and the fact that this implies it’s even possible to change something as fundamental as someone’s sexuality.

            I was heavily involved in the gay rights movement at one time, and never heard of anyone who was successfully changed (although many of their families and churches tried). Being told their deepest feelings are sick or evil accomplishes nothing but to create severe emotional problems and self-hatred.

  2. Mimi Moseley says:

    Wow! This is a very good response. Thank you Doni for posting this. It certainly helps to understand Bethel’s position I would love to be in on the dialogue if a meeting is scheduled. I love the invitation to communicate. Lack of communication can divide even further.

  3. Judy Salter says:

    It is my understanding that the legislation prohibits charging for conversion therapy. I would like to watch the sermon video but I cannot find it on YouTube where other Bethel sermons are found. Does anyone know how to watch it?

  4. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Interesting.

    On the issue of the proposed law, I haven’t changed my mind. I’m with Bethel. If adults want to seek counseling to change their sexual orientation—or just their behavior—they should be free to do so. If Bethel wants to charge them a fee, that’s a matter between buyer and seller. I hold that position even if the therapy is harmful for many people. It’s your life and your cash. Homeopathy is utter bullshit, but it’s not illegal, and if you want to spend your money on it, knock yourself out. (If you proposed to cure your kid’s leukemia solely with a homeopathic tincture of white cedar reduced so many times that it’s just water, someone needs to intervene.) Why should Rite Aid be free to sell all kinds of pseudo-treatments on its “supplements” shelves, but Bethel gets its hands tied when it comes to offering for-fee counseling?

    That said, I’m having a difficult time getting my arms around Bethel’s tone-deafness on this topic. Here’s what I think of Ms. Woning’s sexual-identity journey: Elizabeth, if you’re happy now, coolness—good for you. But, oh my God, this testimonial comes off as “I was broken, but I got the lesbian feelings cured out of me through Jesus, and now I’m all better.” I suspect this article went through some vetting at Bethel (which would account for the time lapse). Does upper management not get it? Do they not understand that referring to sexual identity as a “lifestyle” is hella inflammatory? What made them think that it was necessary to highlight a story that makes it seem like Bethel is able to”fix” some LGBTQ+ people? This could have easily been an article with the generic message, “Hey, we just want to be free to talk people through their often-complex sexual identity and behavior issues, from a Biblical perspective, and charge them for it. This is still America, right? Where those folks end up is between them and The Big Guy. ”

    But instead, they went with what I’m assuming they view as a “success story.” Someone who got turned around and pointed in the right direction.

    Clunk.

    Frankly, I think Bethel would have been better served if they’d just kept their heads down on this topic for a few months.

    (Even the name of Ms. Woning’s organization, “Equipped to Love,” brings to mind the regressive fundamentalist argument: God made male parts to fit with female parts, so anything else is contrary to God’s plan. I don’t know if that’s the name’s intent—but even if it’s not, it’s just another example of the tone-deafness.)

    • Deb Deb says:

      “Do they not understand that referring to sexual identity as a “lifestyle” is hella inflammatory?”

      I’ve gotta say, that ‘lifestyle’ bit jumped out at me, too. Yeesh.

    • I’m pretty sure Mathew Grigsby’s take below is correct: Bethel can still try to convert gay people, they just can’t charge money for the practice. One thing that’s confusing about this to me is the law appears to apply only to licensed clinicians, and conversion therapy in the religious setting often doesn’t involve licensed clinicians. Bethel says it applies to these people too, but I’m not so certain about that. If they don’t have a license, how can the state leverage them?

      • Anonymous says:

        Many people employed at Bethel are Licensed Clinicians, many are LCSW’s. Some are just pastors, or life coaches, etc. They all provide services, whose to say they can’t make a living?

    • How exactly it will apply to the sale of their books is unclear to me. If it’s not marketed as conversion therapy but has the same content, it seems to me that would be legal.

      • Anonymous says:

        Until another future law is passed making it illegal. It’s a slippery slope.

  5. Matthew Grigsby says:

    I don’t like feeling wary and afraid of Bethel and its members, but the truth is that I do. I strongly suspect that the church does not agree that a person living a gay lifestyle can be whole and happy, while also expressing a strong Christian faith. I also suspect Bethel would not agree that a person can be “born again” and remain gay, which to me indicates there is already a fundamental difference in viewpoint that is difficult to ignore.

    Does Bethel support gay marriage? Would Bethel allow a gay couple to be married in their church? Does Bethel support same sex couples adopting children? Would Bethel support legislation protecting the LGBTQ community from discrimination in employment and housing? Naturally, they don’t have to do any of these things because that is part of their right of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. However, I do not believe that this would be a part of any dialogue between the church and the community. Communication is what can bring people together, but not if fundamental issues of concern are off the table.

    You express concern that this legislation would limit testimonies of the impossible and the unlikely, but this is frankly not the case. You would absolutely be free to do those things in your church and there is nothing in the legislation that would prevent that in any way. Bethel would still be able to offer counseling to gay people, but what they would not be able to do is charge people for conversion therapy, which is exactly what Bethel wants to do. We cannot pretend otherwise, and we cannot call it by any other name. Conversion therapy is particularly dangerous to children and can cause great harm to any individual. Also, it does not work.

    I struggle greatly with my fear of Bethel, because I have many friends and coworkers who attend the church. It’s difficult to reconcile my love and respect for the people in my life who follow a church that I truly feel does not see me as an equal member of society. I watched the video that created all this controversy. I heard the words and I understood the intent. I wasn’t afraid of Bethel before watching that video but the message was so clear that I couldn’t ignore it. This was not a message of love and understanding and acceptance. Why do you think so many people reacted so strongly to it, and so quickly?

    I believe our differences make us stronger because they force us to come together and work out solutions to those differences. I do not believe in cutting off dialogue or communication, but I do not see anything here that is an offer to solve these differences or reach across the divide.

  6. conservative says:

    206 Days until the election. Politics is a chess game. To win, one must think more moves ahead than the opponent. Both sides should think through their positions and anticipate the opponent’s.

  7. Aleeta Stamn says:

    In the class below Senior Pastor and Bethel spokesman Kris Vallotton refers to being gay as a “perversion”, and equates it to pornography. I don’t see much “love and acceptance” in this Old Testament-style condemnation:

    krisvallotton.com/step-out-from-the-crowd-of-cowards/

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      I read it and (as a scientist) my favorite bit was this: “This is the brain space where…the complexities of the universe are explained through a mindless explosion, and humans evolved from apes who still fill our jungles (interesting).”

      In one breath—a sentence in which he is ironically attempting to mock others—he reveals his profound ignorance of both the “big bang” theory and the theory of evolution, and thereby undermines the strength and credibility of his core argument.

    • Anonymous says:

      Love and acceptance of a the sinner not the sin, there is a difference. Do you have kids? Then you’ll know what I’m talking about. This isn’t Kris Vallontton’s opinion, this is a New Testament teaching not limited to an Old Testament that you claim. Maybe you should read the Bible again, except this time in the New Testament:

      1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV)

      9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

  8. Thank you for responding Elizabeth. You look happy and fabulous in both photographs. As you are aware, your experience is anecdotal. Not a whole lot of studies have been done on conversion therapy in the religious setting, and the meta-analysis of the studies that have been done, by the APA, show that it has no efficacy, and the abundance of the anecdotal evidence indicated it does far more harm than good, especially to young people, which is why it’s banned for young people.

  9. Blake Dorsey says:

    I know Matt….. and believe me Matt right now is a whole person…… that does not need to do anything or believe anything more to become a whole person….

  10. Jessica French says:

    Wow…. “a picture says a thousand words”.

  11. Michelle says:

    I watched the message–the whole “message–not an out of context “part.” (not the singing part tho). I thought the message to be a message of frustration against laws NOT people. Bethel has a “view” on homosexuality, as do MANY Christian churches. Why do people think Christians must change their biblical view? Why should Bethel not promote their biblical beliefs? Aren’t we a free country? Because it is their church held biblical view, they should not be allowed to promote their message to their own audience in their own church? People at my church are not against ANY people. There is NO HATE against liars, adulterers, druggies, homosexuals, lesbians-etc- you get the pic. Maybe I am off base here, but I think the majority of Christians, including Bethel-are not anti any human- heterosexual/homosexual, thief, murderer,, liar, adulterer, worrier, angry people, etc…they see all of them as sinners behaving in a sinful way as noted in the bible. Christians believe in the bible. NOT the newspaper. Not the media, not political correctness. It seems like a lot of people are assuming because Bethel promotes a Biblical world view- they hate gay people. That is not true. That is a lie promoted by…well….you fill in the blank.

    Many conservatives, myself included, are tired of the endless laws. If something horrible makes the headlines, we better have a law for that. It is ridiculous. I am waiting for dog seat belts, honestly. Too many laws!

    • Anita Brady says:

      So, tell us about your feelings regarding women’s reproductive choices? Would those be acceptable to you? How about laws regulating the oldest profession? Are those OK? How about laws regarding access to air travel, TSA, and who can and can’t Board planes?

      Yeah, you didn’t say all laws were bad but it sure seems like you think you should be the one to decide which ones should exist. At the very least, you seem to be saying that the Bible and Bethel’s interpretation of it should have the final say about laws. Sounds like the evangelical equivalent to Sharia Law to me.

    • Leah Roadrunner says:

      I love your response!!!

  12. Tim says:

    I’m mostly in agreement with Steve. Let consenting adults do what they want, including exchange money to listen to unorthodox teachings.

    Would those saying “it is all about the money” be OK if we outlawed progressive speakers charging money to give progressive speeches? (e.g. You can give a pro-choice speech, but only if you do so for free). The exchange of money, in and of itself, is speech. My voluntarily exchanging it for your speech says “I value what you have to say.”

    I’m also against a blanket ban against preaching this particular message to children. That is a crazy amount of power you’re giving to the state. If you can prove that a particular “therapy” is abusive, by all means charge the responsible parties under existing child abuse statutes. But this isn’t about banning specific therapies proven to be harmful, it is about banning all therapies half of society thinks are politically uncorrect.

    • Jim says:

      If it is all about allowing consenting adults do as they want, why the prostitution crackdown? Why can we not grow cannabis? In Shasta County, it is all about this church getting their way.

      • Tim says:

        Because most people want to impose their morals on others once they are in power. I’ll no sooner understand pro-choice “my body my choice” people who prohibit prostitution than I will “pro life” folks who support capital punishment.

    • Fortunately, it’s already illegal to practice this therapy on children in California, because every relevant medical authority in the country agrees they don’t work and cause more harm than good. That’s why states across the country have banned it for kids. Some passages of the bible condone slavery and racism. Should we allow churches to practice that in the name of religious freedom?

      • Tim says:

        If someone consented to being a slave, who am I to stop them from pursuing their happiness?

        • Because a lot of blacks loved slavery.

        • Dr. Nancy says:

          If you CONSENT to being a slave, you have made a consensual agreement, you’re not being enslaved against your will. But I get your jest. 😉

          I think we can all agree what is making Bethel the most upset is the financial impact this will have – not the right or wrong of it all.

      • The Old Pretender says:

        There are times when even snake oil must be properly regulated for the good of the community.

  13. cheyenne says:

    How things have changed. In my younger days we called someone who wasn’t sure of their sexual identities, AC/DC, no conversion necessary.

  14. Denise O says:

    Lots of great points in this thread. Thank you to all.

    I’m with Steve and Bethel for now. Using my heart to respond, I have to assume the intent is the highest and best for all concerned.

    There could be many cases of childhood trauma that led to switching teams in adulthood. To me, there may indeed be healing involved in some number of cases.

    One or forty gender bender activities does not necessarily label anyone in my book. Some are fascinated with exploration. If they get to a place where the actions are not serving their highest and best, they can pick their remedy. They can pay for that. Capitalism is beautiful like that.

    I’m not ready to jump bad on all things Bethel. I’ve already judged organized religion systems in my life quite harshly (raised in the Bible Belt). My inner compass in this has settled in the middle.

    Where the conversation is harder is when a child is born that way and parents are free to judge what is best. Remember that child will be an adult someday and can always choose next steps.

    All we can do meanwhile: love one another.

    • Aleeta Stamn says:

      The problem with charging for this type of “therapy” (as determined by various courts around the country) is that “misrepresenting homosexuality as a disorder” violates consumer protection laws, and “deceptive, false, or misleading practices” that are overwhelmingly ineffective and can cause actual harm are “in direct violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act”.

      https://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy

      Denise, parents shouldn’t have carte blanche to expose their children to practices that are proven to cause serious mental and emotional problems (even leading to suicide) and almost never work based on an ancient religious text that also promotes and/or condones rampant sexism, the mass slaughter of non-believers, rape, incest, slavery, and the sexual abuse of children. A civilized society creates laws against those types of abuses. If parents are allowed to inflict this form of abuse, the damage has already been done by the time the child becomes an adult. At that point it may be a matter of undergoing years of counseling to try to undo the brain washing and self-hatred.

      • Denise O says:

        I hear you! But this is America where we see babies marching along side Mom & Dad at a KKK rally.

        We cannot legislate morality.

        Certainly I don’t share the same parenting views with lots of people and they would be horrified at some of mine.

        • The Old Pretender says:

          “We cannot legislate morality.” Say what?? Evangelicals try to do this every day of the week.

  15. cheyenne says:

    The over riding message seen here is how perverse same gender sex is seen by those on both sides of the issue. At my son’s wedding a few weeks ago his bride’s older sister, who is gay, was there from California with her long time partner. She read a moving piece about commitment, likes, shares, of mates. No where was the subject of sex, which is a very small part of marriage, brought up. If two people share a love for the Arts, or animals, sports, or music, is that perverse because they are the same sex?

  16. Christian says:

    It seems rather obvious to me that your worldview will choose how you feel about this article. When will people begin to have a dialogue past what they think they know? Similarly, when will people begin to learn that the majority of the issue here is a lack of free speech, and a suspension of rights. Like the other folks that seem libertarian above I agree that Bethel should be allowed to both speak and charge for a service that they have educated and experienced people conducting.

    Is Mrs woning correct in assuming that God can “heal” a person through prayer and counseling? It hardly matters. How many services are offered in our country with little science to back up the benefit? Look at Chiropractic care for example.

    It’s seems to me that this legislation seeks to block religious freedoms only because they differ with the political views of the party in power.

    If you think Bethel is closed minded because they believe homosexuality is sinful then continue to espouse and answer to their claims, and continue to engage Christians in a loving dialogue on why you believe they’re misled. Do not, however, put out legislation to make any kind or form of language illegal. It seems so nonsensical, and backwards for that matter, to the cause you claim to champion.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Christian, I agree with most of what you’ve said, including your conclusion: “Do not, however, put out legislation to make any kind or form of language illegal.”

      However, I can’t ignore the fact that for centuries Christians have been legislating Biblical morality in this country. In Deep South states like Alabama and Rust Belt states like Indiana, it still exists to the extent that the federal courts allows it. Homosexuals have been killed or put in prison or deemed morally unfit for employment in this country because of what fundamentalist Christians believe. Mixes-race couples have been denied the right to marry because of what fundamentalist Christians believe. We execute people at a much, much higher rate than any other western nation, largely because of our fundamentalist Christian heritage. You can’t be ignorant of this history, or ignore it as a present-day source of concern.

      If it was just you Bethelites in your church, believing what you believe, I think most of us would be fine with that—as you point out, what you believe differs little from what other conservative churches around town believe. But Bethel has made it abundantly clear that it wants to exert increasing political and social influence in Redding—and is. Matt Grigsby (comment up above) is openly gay, and has lived here all his life. Maybe it’s you Bethelites—while contemplating the long history of Christian intolerance put to action—who need to reflect on why people like Matt are freaked out by the prospect of a fundamentalist-leaning church taking over the town. Maybe it’s YOU who need to work on understanding.

  17. AJ AJ says:

    How can we be so concerned about two people just wanting to love one another when there is so much hate in the world.

  18. Tiffany says:

    I tried to read AB 2943, and here is what I understand it to say:

    Section 1 lists various research and medical associations that are opposed to sexual orientation change methods because they are ineffective and/or harmful.

    Section 2 amends Section 1761 of the Civil Code to include a definition of “sexual orientation change effort.”

    Section 3 amends Section 1770 of the Civil Code to include the new item “Advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual” as the 28th specifically listed example of “unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices”

    So, I think the spirit of the law is this: Services that are meant to result in a change of sexual orientation have been deemed by medical professionals to be ineffective and/or harmful. These methods are so ineffective and/or so harmful it should be considered unfair or deceptive to offer these services for sale. This law makes it unlawful to do so.

    Elizabeth Woning is saying Bethel’s right to free speech means Bethel should be allowed to continue offering these services despite them being deemed ineffective and/or harmful by a great many medical professionals.

    It seems to me, this is a question of which right supersedes the other? The right to free speech, or the right not to be deceived about the services you are purchasing. (I’m not sure if money changing hands matters or not) When Bethel offers these services, do they make it clear that medical professionals oppose them because they are ineffective/harmful?

    • Rachel says:

      I appreciate your breakdown of the bill. I am however not trusting the people who have supposedly studied and deemed the therapies ineffective or harmful. Most psychologists are left-leaning liberals that believe in evolution having no belief in the Bible. It is very hard to trust their skewed data.

      • Matt Grigsby says:

        How did you come up with the figure of “most” psychologists are liberal? How did you come to the conclusion that they believe in evolution and are atheists?
        Also, how do you conclude that people who disagree with you have skewed data?

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        I love the anti-science people who eagerly avail themselves of the fruits of the sciences, while denying the validity of science.

        Organic evolution isn’t a belief—it’s a scientific theory. As a scientific theory, it begets hypotheses. It happens to be one of the most overwhelmingly supported theories in the sciences, long ago reaching the status of “settled science.” As a unifying theory, it explains much of what we observe in biotic life, where no other scientific theory comes close.

        The evidence for evolution is so compelling, in fact, that the hard-ass Dominican and Jesuit intellectuals of the Catholic church concluded that the only reasonable alternative to evolution being a process that has been going on for billions of years on Earth is that God made the world to deceptively look like evolution has been going on for billions of years, and that the apparent radiation of biological diversity is God’s ruse. The Catholic church decided that of those two choices, evolution was a fact. (They do hold that God can intervene in the process.)

        I was lucky enough in grad school (UC Davis) to have geneticist and evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala as a professor. Ayala is a Spaniard who has doctorate degrees in biology, philosophy, and theology. He is a wise and learned man on many subjects, including religion. He’d been a Dominican priest prior to his academic career, and was educated in Catholic universities. I greatly enjoyed talking to him about the intersection of science and religion during seminars and his office hours.

        Contrast him with Kris Vallotton, who asks: “If we evolved from apes, why are the jungles still full of apes?” That’s a middlingly intelligent fourth-grader’s misunderstanding of evolution, at best.

      • Tiffany says:

        I hear you to say you do not trust psychologists because you associate them with left-leaning liberals. I have a different perspective. I have an academic background and know scientists. I know they work hard, and I know they strive to be scientifically rigorous. I trust them and I extend that trust to academic and medical professionals that I do not personally know because I have faith in the institutions and I have faith in the scientific process. Also, I know plenty of scientists and academics who are also Christians.

      • Aleeta Stamn says:

        Rachel – Psychiatrists are educated people who generally rely on science rather than superstition. Verifiable data that gay conversion therapy works is basically non-existent, while there is an overwhelming amount of scientific data that it doesn’t work and is often harmful (the occasional anecdotal story from religious organizations is not “proof”).

        I’d say it’s much safer to label any information that comes from churches and religious organizations on this subject as “skewed”, since they have an obvious agenda (which in Bethel’s case is to continue making money around its claims that it can miraculously “heal” gay people).

    • Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

      Thank you for your research Tiffany. You cleared up some points I was confused about.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      AB 2943 is an amendment of the Unlawful Business Practices Code. If you read the subtext of the bill, you’ll find:

      (b) “Services” means work, labor, and services for other than a commercial or business use, including services furnished in connection with the sale or repair of goods.

      (d) “Consumer” means an individual who seeks or acquires, by purchase or lease, any goods or services for personal, family, or household purposes.

      (e) “Transaction” means an agreement between a consumer and another person, whether or not the agreement is a contract enforceable by action, and includes the making of, and the performance pursuant to, that agreement.

      It’s a consumer-protection law—a restriction on services-for-fee transactions. Bethel would be free to continue to council people as they see fit. They wouldn’t legally be able to charge money for it.

      I think Tim would agree that’s a restriction on free speech—giving someone money is an endorsement of what that someone is saying or doing. You could apply that logic to any kind of charlatanism or deceptive business practice.

      I’ve been called a libertarian on this thread, but I’m certainly not Tim’s brand of libertarian. I’m not fond of the idea that wealthy people should be able to corner the market on influential “free speech” and hijack democracy by writing big checks.

      • Tiffany says:

        Are you saying that consumer protection law is only relevant for paid services? It protects “consumers” from paying for unfair/deceptive services, but it does not protect people from receiving unfair/deceptive services for free. It’s the money part that is most important. Am I understanding your comment correctly?

        I’m not clear on what you say about free speech. Are you saying the free speech angle is not from Bethel’s side (their right to counsel and provide services), but rather it’s the free speech right of the consumer to pay for things they endorse?

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          I’m saying two things:

          1. The law, AB 2943, is focused narrowly on for-fee services. It does not restrict your minister from ministering to you, including attempts to pray the gay out. It prevents him/her from charging you a fee to engage you in sexual orientation conversion therapy.

          2. I’m not down with Tim’s libertarian worldview that giving other people money is a form of free speech. As it applies to Bethel, the argument that preventing them from charging a fee for conversion therapy is a 1st Amendment violation hurts my brain.

          • Tim says:

            Can the State forbid a priest from charging a fee for performing a wedding service? Can it forbid a rabbi from charging a fee to supervise a kosher food operation?

            Can it forbid either priest or rabbi from selling a book describing those services?

          • Tiffany says:

            Steve, thanks for clarifying.

            Tim, I think the balance comes from considering the different people who want to pay for the services. Some of these people may believe in the value of the service and want to pay for it. They may actually be aware that there is a body of evidence that demonstrates the services to be ineffective or harmful, and still believe in it anyway.

            But there may also be people who do not have the knowledge that a great many medical professionals have deemed these services ineffective and harmful. I don’t think that performing a wedding, supervising a kosher food operation or selling a books about those things is inneffective or harmful in the same way that the sexual orientation change is harmful.

            If I had a friend or family member who wanted to seek out sexual orientation change, I would want them to have as much good information as possible to make that decision. I myself could offer them help in gathering that information. But some people might not have family members or friends that can help them gather that information, and I wouldn’t want them to be taken advantage of.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Tim — To repeat my position, I’m not in favor of such restrictions, even as they relate to Bethel’s conversion-therapy-for-a-fee practices. Our difference is that I come to that position from a guarded “live and let live” perspective—I don’t think it’s my job, or the state’s job, to protect Bethel’s LGBTQ+ members from themselves or their ministers under the flimsy guise of consumer protection. To me, it’s regulatory overreach. If Bethel’s deprogramming practices are harming anyone, those people who are being harmed are a willing party to the harm. It’s not hurting anyone else.

            That’s not the same as believing that giving money to someone is protected under the 1st Amendment. I don’t believe that was intended by those who drafted the Bill of Rights, SCOTUS decisions notwithstanding. Nor do I believe that corporations, unions, or religious organizations are individuals—again, notwithstanding SCOTUS decisions.

          • Tim says:

            Do you have a right to donate to the NAACP? Does it have a right to organize marches and protests? Would the founding fathers have tolerated prohibiting the Pennsylvania Abolition Society from accepting donations or engaging in free speech activities?

          • Funny Tim should mention rabbis. Because it’s a group of east coast orthodox rabbis heavily engaged in conversion therapy got their asses sued off by pissed off clients, then the Feds shut them down. So no, you can’t do anything you want under the guise of free religion. Of course, that hasn’t stopped those rabbis …
            https://qz.com/1250079/jonah-the-biggest-jewish-gay-conversion-therapy-organization-kept-operating-under-a-new-name-after-us-courts-shut-it-down/

          • Tim says:

            I’m not seeing the problem RV. Fraudsters failed to deliver promises and displeased customers used existing civil law to win a judgement large enough to put them out of business. If actual users of Bethel’s services find that they have been harmed, they can do the same to Bethel.

  19. Patricia Bay says:

    The title of this article is “A Letter from Bethel to Friends & Members of the LGBTQ+ Community.” It appears to me to be a statement that says “come let us fix you like they fixed me” to the LBGTQ community.

  20. Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

    Thank you Elizabeth for sharing this article with anewscafe. It’s wonderful that you were able to reach a place of peace and enter into a marriage with a man. This is your message and I respect that. It is not the message of Bethel Church. The message from Bethel church is available by reading Kris Vallotton’s words or watching videos of his sermons.

  21. Aleeta Stamn says:

    Kris Vallotton’s sermon totally ignored numerous scientific studies that found in-born genetic links between homosexuality and chromosomes, birth order, etc.

    His description of the proposed Senate bills also appears to be highly deceptive. He told his congregation something to the effect that the wording of the bills is very complicated and hard to understand (not true), which I assume was to encourage them to rely solely on his synopsis. I hope his audience will actually read the text of these bills for themselves.

    • Tim says:

      Numerous scientific studies have also found genetic components to diseases (e.g. cancer) and undesireable traits (e.g. propensity for violence). So being “born this way” is not de facto proof of an ideal configuration.

      Bethel leadership seems to sincerely believe acting on homosexual impulses threatens your immortal soul and that they can help you save it. Some patients agree with them. And sometimes the therapy works.

      The evidence against conversion therapy is as pseudoscientific as the evidence for: e.g. “some people who have undergone conversion therapy have committed suicide” (homosexuals commit suicide at ~5x the rate as heterosexuals, so you shouldn’t be surprised by “some” suicides in a study of homosexuals). Best I can tell, “conversion” works a small percentage of the time but can also cause emotional trauma a larger percentage of the time.

      Wel, many “legitimate” medical treatments like late stage radiation & chemotherapy work only a tiny fraction of the time and also have horrendous side effects. But even if we know chemo works only 5% of the time for a particular cancer, we don’t forbid doctors and patients from making the informed decision to try it because the alternative is death.

      The APA, like most posters here, does not believe homosexuality is a mental or physical disorder. Therefore any “therapy” that causes any harm is mentally & medically unnecessary.

      But Bethel is operaring under a religious framework. They believe the alternative is damnation. If that belief is sincerely held by both “therapist” and “patient,” who are we to stop them from throwing their hail mary? If it helps, stop calling it “therapy” and consider it religious training. Churches should be free to charge for religious training or rituals.

      • Aleeta Stamn says:

        Tim – Those are terrible comparisons (and highly prejudicial). Just because something that really affects no one else offends some group’s religious beliefs doesn’t mean it deserves to be placed in the same category as cancer or “a propensity for violence”.

        As I pointed out earlier, Bethel is still free to perform this type of “therapy” on consenting adults who are legally capable of making their own decisions. They just can’t charge for it. If they feel strongly that the person’s eternal soul is in peril, perhaps they could just perform this service for free. If they aren’t willing to do that it might indicate they are only in it for the money.

        Of course if money wasn’t the main issue it’s likely they would have no objection to these bills at all. I doubt they would have come out so publicly only against a proposal to protect young people in foster care from being forced to undergo efforts to change their sexuality against their will, or to perform this on adults who are determined by the courts to be unable to make their own decisions. There really isn’t much of a market among either of those groups.

        • Tim says:

          That example made no judgement of homosexuality; the existence of the “murder gene” (colloquial term) merely counters the theory that genetic predispositions are God’s endorsement of those actions.

          And “just not for money” seems rather flippant in regard to a constitutionally protected right like religion. Can the bacon-loving majority all get together and make a law forbidding payment for any sermon which espouses restricting swine? I mean if Jews and Muslims *really* believe pork is bad, they should be willing to preach for free, right?

          • Aleeta Stamn says:

            Tim – I posted this link in an earlier comment. It explains the stand various courts have taken around the country on this form of “therapy”. Selling a product there is no evidence actually works and that may even harm the consumer is apparently a violation of consumer protection laws (some of them federal). As you can see, there is absolutely no comparison between this and an avoidance of bacon.

            https://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy

          • Tim says:

            Yet there is evidence it can work (the author of the letter is one example).

            Your link even admits that the pro LGBT side lacks scientifically sound research for their ban: In 2007 the American Psychological Association reported that “there are no methodologically sound studies of recent SOCE that would enable the task force to make a definitive statement about whether or not recent SOCE (sexual orientation change efforts) is safe or harmful and for whom.”

            You’d like to forever ban a treatment ostensibly because the very first attempts were badly botched, but this “therapy” is still in its infancy. And every day we are learning more about how gene expressions change based on environmental factors. Who knows whether we’ll one day be able to turn traits on/off and whether a bunch of people praying under falling feathers just might stumble across a breakthrough like Goodyear spilling rubber on a stove.

            For instance: a large number of those who have “successfully” been converted long term seem to remain heavily involved in the conversion treatments of others. Understandably, many are skeptical if these folks were ever “really gay” or if they are truly straight now. But is it not possible that being surrounded by a loving and supporting group that continuously offers positive reinforcement and prestige for living a straight “lifestyle” might change gene expressions the same way a year in space or a couple months on an African diet does? Maybe that is worth an actual scientific study…

          • Aleeta Stamn says:

            Tim – That’s not what my link actually says. It states:

            “In 2007, a task force of the American Psychological Association undertook a thorough review of the existing research on the efficacy of conversion therapy. Their report noted that there was very little methodologically sound research on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCEs) and that the “results of scientifically valid research indicate that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions through SOCE.” In addition, the task force found that “there are no methodologically sound studies of recent SOCE that would enable the task force to make a definitive statement about whether or not recent SOCE is safe or harmful and for whom. In short, there is clear evidence that conversion therapy does not work, and some significant evidence that it is also harmful to LGBTQ people”.

            I’m curious. Could you change your sexual orientation based on encouragement from some group of people, no matter how “positive” it might be?

          • Tim says:

            My knee-jerk reaction is “no way,” but I’ve never been in a single-sex environment for a long period of time (studies of situational homosexuality suggest about half of the population will engage in homosexual acts under those circumstances).

            For instance, one study found heterosexual men are more than 50 times as likely to engage in homosexual sex in prison as they are outside. Another found that 45% of female prisoners engage homosexual activity while in prison. Yet almost all return to living heterosexual lives on the outside.

            Still, about half of prisoners refuse to engage in homosexual behavior. Is this evidence of a sexuality continuum? Or of deep seated religious beliefs? Perhaps some combination?

            I don’t know — there is insufficient data. And rigorous scientific testing is unlikely to occur (e.g. I can’t see a scientific body ethically allowing gay men to be locked up in women’s prisons).

            But it certainly suggests that some people may be influenced to change (it also suggests that many will not). If these folks all participate willingly, who are we to place restrictions – especially restrictions based in politics & not science?

            What consenting adults do behind closed doors is none of our business, right?

          • Aleeta Stamn says:

            That’s quite a stretch. I don’t know about the 50 percent figure, but I think most experts would agree that sex initiated by “straight” men in prison is all about power and control, and not much about sex. And as you pointed out, just being in an all-male environment doesn’t change someone’s basic sexuality. It’s also extremely doubtful that many gay men have spent their lives completely deprived of the presence of women.

            As I’ve said before, Bethel is still free to perform this type of “therapy” on consenting adults (no matter how brainwashed and misled they may be). However, fraud/consumer protection laws apparently prohibit Bethel from charging money for it.

          • Tim says:

            Situational homosexuality is not the same as rape. It has a long history in same sex settings like prep schools, the military, etc. It is prevalent enough to develop cliches like “boys in the Navy” (or cowboys on the range) and “lesbians until graduation.”

          • Tim says:

            UC Santa Barbara’s take on situational homosexuality: http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/sexinfo/article/situational-homosexuality-0

  22. cheyenne says:

    Fixed? What does that mean exactly, please explain. I used to think Dallas Cowboy’s fans needed to be fixed but I have evolved. Now I think New England Patriots fans, RV, need to be fixed.

  23. Stephen says:

    The point is “Jesus has changed therapy”. Bottom Line

    @kvministries Kris Vallotton speaks re CA Converson Therapy Bills and the righteousness and healing power of Jesus Christ. Start at 2:31:36
    “Jesus has changed therapy”
    https://youtu.be/_B2s6XWT2oY
    #bethelredding #bethel #reddingca #shastacounty #lgbtq #jesuschrist #holyspirit

    • Common Sense says:

      Jesus just called in. His message was “Love Everyone”….regardless of parts! Remember…..Love is the answer.

  24. Anita L Brady says:

    I have to comment on this article as follows:
    Bethel teaches and claim that the deceased can be raised from the dead.
    Bethel teaches and claim that they can heal all manner of diseases/illnesses.
    Of course, Bethel and this woman espouse that they can change homosexual sexual attraction.
    It is all part of the con in the name of religion.

    Any effort to stop them from these dangerous practices and Bethel’s money-making from them should be accomplished at the legislative level.

  25. Larry Winter says:

    Why are pyramid schemes illegal since it works for some of the investors? Everyone enters into it willingly.
    And is there a market for non-religious people wanting to convert their gayness into hetero or is it all based on the religious belief that they will be eternally condemned if they don’t convert? Isn’t this coercion?

    Pyramid schemes; Bad
    Gay conversion for a fee through coercion; Good?

  26. Brandon says:

    Bethel church is the reason I detest religion. When I was a young man, my sister in law invited me to attend church services there. During the sermon, the pastor led with “Gay people.. why do we call them gay when the word gay means happy, and these people are anything but happy”… launching into a hate-filled, anti-gay message.
    That was enough for me to understand that organized religion is not for me. Some people are born gay, some people are born not-gay. That’s how it works, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a gay person.
    However, there are plenty of things wrong with organized religion, including hateful messages and the support of hateful laws.

  27. Ginny says:

    How sad you allowed one church, Bethel, to turn you against all religions.

    I was told once that say all churches have 10 points. Pick out the one you agree with most. Then attend that church. To condemn all for the one is not using your God given talents to weight the facts and prejudices.

    Blessings. That is given without prejudice….

    • Matt Grigsby says:

      I think you ignored the main point Brandon was making.

      Church works for you Ginny. That’s wonderful. It doesn’t work for everyone, and to say someone is “not using your God given talents to weigh facts and prejudices” is contradictory and hypocritical. It sounds like he *did* weigh the facts and prejudices and decided it wasn’t for him.

      You’re basically saying church should be his only choice, which is exactly why people are so against Bethel and their message.

  28. Katie says:

    I was not surprised at all to see Bethel’s position on these bills or by their views on the issue. Having grown up attending evangelical churches in Shasta County, I know they are not alone in their views.

    What I am surprised about is the hurtful and disrespectful way in which Kris Vallotton communicated these views in a sermon from the pulpit and it deserves to be called out. People have a right to be angry about the way in which he talked about (on behalf on the entire church) a group of people in our community. Further more, in this same sermon he spoke about sexual assault survivors and the metoo movement in ways that were incredibly disrespectful. He victim shamed and mocked women who have come forward and Bill Johnson participated by laughing and taking a picture of the moment. The misogyny on display (from the way he talked about LGBTQ community to the way he spoke about women) was appalling and people should be talking about it. It has no place in our community and in my opinion, no place in any church. At the end, Elizabeth calls for unity and respect. The disagreement and disrespect is not coming from those who disagree with Bethel, it came from the sermon Kris gave. Yes, let’s move forward with respect. Out of respect for my community members who are LGBTQ+ and for those that are sexual assault survivors, I have to speak out against the rhetoric Kris used, inaccurate video he showed and the victim blaming portrayed.

  29. Liz says:

    The elephant in the room of this discussion is that Bethel holds a non-profit tax status. As such, why would it care if people pay or not?

    Seems to me that Bethel is a business masked a church to avoid paying taxes. The tax advantage allows them to invest in business activities that are above and beyond opportunities available to other businesses. They are able to use that tax advantage to infiltrate our city council, influence our police with substantial monetary gifts, take over our convention center and I’m sure there is more.

    This well crafted PR piece is just that – PR. If your child has even been traumatized by being surrounded by 8 – 10 “Bethel Missionaires” at a Shasta/Enterprise football game you know that Bethel does not make us feel safe. Personally, I feel that Bethel has brought fear to our community. We are afraid to speak our minds for fear of backlash.

    This does not discount the substantial business acumen that Bethel leadership have shown. We can all learn how they managed to use digital marketing to build a tribe of followers from all over the world. We should all pay attention to how they run their business and learn from it.

    Finally, I have family members from multiple generations who are gay. One is deeply religious and attends an evangelical church and believes in it to his heart and soul. He was forced to go through conversion therapy. I have watched the shame and guilt that he has felt because he’s been told he is sick. His denial of his truth has gotten in the way of his being able to live to his full potential. God does not make mistakes. He wants you to embrace the sexuality you were born with. He wants you to step into your truth and live the life that you were born to live. How dare some business, masking as a church tells you otherwise.

  30. concerned american says:

    it all boils down to a simple thing, should freedom of speech be allowed? and should free market be allowed? what about freedom of Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? For the same reason that people are pushing to be allowed to practice sharia law within a muslim community or amish freedom in an amish settlement,Bethel is trying to be allowed legally to practice their bethel lifestyle. its not about money, its about censorship. they aren’t asking to change the laws to be anti-gay by standing up to this law. they are asking to be given the religious protecions this country originally stood for. so that people groups like the amish will continue to be allowed to exist, or even things like the hippie movements in the 60’s. the fundamental phrasing of the law that bethel stood up to would basically say. Only the government approved way of living life is acceptable, which is why many religious groups came to america to begin with, to flee that kind of mentality. Its the same laws that protected the LGBTQ+ community when they wanted to fight for their rights. would you take someone’s rights away just because you didn’t believe them? the whole point of the coexist movement is to recognize that education changes everything, so if a free flow of ideas isn’t allowed how can anyone have access to anything beyond propaganda? theres a reason the iron curtain fell, because people have a right to believe whatever they want, no matter how absurd, as long as it doesn’t take away the rights of another or violate the local laws. the law bethel is combatting also covers more than just “making money from a controversial belief”, it prevents any curriculums be written, or books published, even free open source books. it polices social media, with the possibility of silencing detractors through arrests, that to me sounds more like a hit squad than any kind of american mentality. that is what is scary about the law. it could even set precedent that silences all but the approved thinking, a lot like nazi germany. being pro-lgbtq+ i don’t want anyone’s rights infringed upon, but nowhere does it say you have a right not to hear a contraversial opinion, and bethel never forces people into anything, any “counseling” they offer are 100% voluntary, and always to informed adults.

  31. Daniel Drumgool says:

    Wow this is so brave! It’s so brave of you to say you are straight! You need a reality check honey. This letter does not take courage! This letter literally is total bull! Bethel only lives to create a culture of repression and ruses! I’m not saying that all who come to bethel for “healing” of their sexuality are faking it. I’m just saying that there’s so many that come only to live a life of shoving feelings down and not being able to fully express themselves. I feel the freedom to say this because I have read every book, been to every counselor, made every effort to change my sexuality and came with the conclusion that most of these “healed” men and women do not get “freedom” from same sex attraction they only learn to look past it and choose to tell themselves their straight until they believe it. It’s ridiculous and outrageous!

    And you guys do not worship together, to be accepted in your school you have to either be healed already coming in, gone to your sister school to receive healing or meet with a counselor to continue your healing. What you guys say from the pulpit and in your books is nothing but hateful slurs! There is literally students running around town trying to heal people who are living happily! This is a disease to redding and a disease to the Christian faith. We will not tolerate this abomination any longer!

  32. Kirsten Plate says:

    I have always had a problem with the word “lifestyle” being used to identify being gay/lesbian. Sounds like choosing a colour for your kitchen decor. Something, you specifically CHOOSE. Like: one day you wake up and say, “Gee, sounds fun to be gay- I think, I wanna do that for a while”. So, by that definition, everyone would have had that moment. Funny, I don’t recall such a moment in my life. Could it possibly be , because there IS no choice? And therefore nothing to “fix”?

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      Amen, Kirsten. Who would wake up one day and say to himself, “Gee it would be really fun to be gay and be belittled, bullied, killed because I think it would be great to have a same-sex relationship.”

  33. Marc Dadigan says:

    Elizabeth,
    People’s journeys with their gender identity can be very complicated and fluid. Nothing about the bills discourages churches for providing people with support during this journey.

    The bills are understandable and rational responses to prevailing science and medical consensus that a) non-binary gender identities and sexual orientations are not disorders but a longstanding and vital part to the human experience and society b) conversion therapy isn’t effective on a population level and in many causes actually causes trauma c) because of this conversion therapy should not be conducted by licensed medical professionals and people should not profit off this therapy because it is ineffective.

    The church is still able and allowed to provide the same support it gave you to others. It just can profit from it or advertise it as a medical therapy.

  34. Mat says:

    Good for you! You might want to have a REAL therapist around when the twitching & voices kick-in. Seriously, who knows what’s going on up in there? Yikes! Your letter is so full of contradiction! “Bethel loves you how you are…now change because our way is better!” Are they really this nonsensical all the time?

  35. James says:

    The bible is the inspired word of God and is true. And it has survived thousands of years so their is nothing to fear about this legislation. Its about charging for a service clinically which protects individuals from fraud. Becouse there is no clinical or medical solutions or so called cure to something that isn’t in need of a cure. It is a choice and a persons free will and desire of there heart. As long as you are not charging money for a service or product. Then all is well. Jesus is the truth and the truth will set you free and he is free of charg

    • Matt Grigsby says:

      Sexuality is not a choice, it’s part of our nature.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      Every religion feels/knows that its book is the word of God. Odd how that could be when one contradicts another.

  36. Beverly Stafford says:

    Huh?

  37. Tiffany says:

    I’m still not quite sure how this bill would impact Bethel or other churches. The claim is that it would “limit testimonies of the impossible, the unlikely, and especially the unusual power of a good God to answer prayer.”

    I’m not convinced this bill would do that.

  38. James Crockett says:

    Elizabeth Woning and any other Bethel leadership that are following this discussion. May I suggest a public forum. Maybe rent out the cascade theater for a night?

    Months ago I asked our city council to hold a public safety workshop. Our city council was receptive to the idea and we have now had multiple public safety workshops. The dialogue at those meetings has given our city leadership an opportunity to inform and also listen to the public. I believe those meetings have been fairly successful in helping city leadership understand the public and visa versa.

    If you are truly wanting to serve the city then you shouldn’t just brush off the concerns people have expressed over this topic or other topics. If you feel like people have misconceptions about what Bethel is working to accomplish here in Redding then I encourage you to create an opportunity for dialogue.

  39. Blake Dorsey says:

    A lot of the comments on this page remind me of a play I was in a long time ago… The Lark by Jean Anouilh…. it’s about the trial and burning of Joan of Arc .There’s a discussion in court about whose side God is on and the British prosecutor says…
    ” God on my right is written on all the English armor…and we have no intention of changing it now.”

  40. AB2943-Unlawful Business Practices: sexual orientation change efforts.(Version 98-Amended Assembly 3/23/18) Votes: 4/19/18, Assembly Floor-Democrats 50 Ayes. Republicans-18 Noes. No Vote Recorded-10. This bill will come back to the Assembly, after Senate concurrence, predictably be signed by the Governor. Then will either stand or face constitutional test of CA Supreme Court, I predict it will prevail. As will the two other bills in question: AB1779-sexual orientation: Change efforts. AB2119-Foster Care: gender affirming health care & behavioral health services. After speaking with staff from each of the authors of the bills, they all state they carefully crafted such so as not to infringe on freedom of speech or religion. Read the bills and you’ll become suddenly educated on how the legislature works, mostly for our benefit. These legislators seek hours of legal advice before they submit a piece of legislation.
    Read the mea culpa by Kris Vallotton in local paper, sorry, not feeling any better about his vicious ‘sermon’ to the Bethel flock on Palm Sunday. His mocking of how a gay male is supposed to act and talk was shameful, it even got approval of Bethel pastor, Bill Johnson, shame on both of you. For those attending this mega corporate entity, you need to walk out next Sunday, en masse. You are espousing hatred, the same kind that killed two of our local gay men years ago, by two brothers that attended Bethel. Not to mention taking thousands of young persons money and making them into mini-ministers, without any accreditation, who think they can heal the folks of Redding. Phoney preachers are alive and living at the Civic Auditorium.

  41. Beverly Stafford says:

    You’re just what we need on A New Cafe. (She said, dripping with sarcasm.)

  42. Laura says:

    I believe that God can change a person’s sexual orientation if that’s what they are seeking. People should have the opportunity to process this desire, should they have it, in the church through counseling, prayer or conversation or otherwise as they should have the opportunity in a secular environment. This has to be a matter of personal choice and not a matter of legislation.

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