The Texas legislature reconvened this month and Democratic lawmakers immediately introduced a variety of bills that would advance LGBTQ equality in the state. Conservative leaders are fiercely opposed to the legislation and have turned to a new messaging strategy to defend their ability to discriminate.
According to Texas Values, a state conservative advocacy group, every one of the pro-LGBTQ bills, which likely won’t gain any momentum, “[ban] the Bible.” The group has even set up the site NoBibleBan.com to redirect to an advocacy page, which declares that the LGBTQ equality bills “would attack people of faith so viciously, we can justifiably describe them as #BanTheBible bills,” and which allows visitors to sign up to receive updates on the movement or email their elected officials.
Texas Values’ president, Jonathan Saenz, has also been dutifully tweeting and retweeting on the hashtag “#BanTheBible” daily.
The bills Saenz objects to would ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations; protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, and make it easier for transgender people to update their birth certificates. None of them mentions the Bible.
Conservative commentator Erick Erickson chimed in this week, posting a blog in which he claimed the bills would “ban Christianity in all but name.”
Opponents of equality have long cited “religious freedom” as a justification for discriminating against LGBTQ people, claiming that wedding vendors like bakers and florists should have the “religious freedom” to refuse to serve same-sex couples or that employers should have the “religious freedom” to fire transgender workers.
The “Ban the Bible” messaging first appeared last year when California’s legislature became the first in the country to consider a bill banning conversion therapy for adults (as opposed to just minors, as 15 states have already done). The bill, which ultimately did not advance (but will likely return), would have defined such therapies or the promotion thereof as a form of consumer fraud. Conservatives made the tenuous claim that because they believe the Bible conveys that people can be “saved,” it would fall under the umbrella of resources prohibited by the legislation.
Texas Values and its supporters aren’t attempting to explain how they think these LGBTQ equality bills would “ban the Bible,” instead opting to make outright assertions with no proof to back them up.
“#BanTheBible doesn’t have to mean confiscating physical Bibles yet,” the group clarified, “but it does mean something even worse — stripping Texans’ right to practice biblical teachings out of their lives.”
The group does not concern itself with LGBTQ people’s basic ability to find work, shelter, or basic recognition for their humanity, nor does it acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ Christians.
This article has been updated to note that NoBibleBan.com redirects to an advocacy page and not a fundraising page.