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Fake News: California Gov. Jerry Brown NOT To Ban Sales Of The Bible

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Sun, 22 Apr 2018 08:49:16 Z)

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Is California governor Jerry Brown preparing to ban sales of the bible? No, that's not true. The claim was made by a website that habitually takes some real news and then adds a few paragraphs and an inflammatory headline to make it sound much, much worse than what is really going on in order to get people to click and share the article on social media.

The misleading story was published as an article on April 20, 2018 by YourNewsWire under the headline "California Gov. Jerry Brown To Ban Sales Of The Bible" (archived here) which opened:

Sales of the Holy Bible and Biblical based teaching is set to be banned in California in the near future thanks to Governor Jerry Brown and the state assembly who have combined to force a bill through the state assembly that claims the Bible promotes hate speech against gays, lesbians and transgender people.

Assembly Bill 2943 will threaten the freedom of religion and First Amendment rights of Christians in California. Using the state's "consumer fraud statute" to restrict religious freedom and free speech, the bill seeks to ban sales of the Bible because it includes verses that fall outside what Gov. Brown considers "acceptable teaching" on sexuality issues.

The controversial bill, which will also ban any form of speech or written material that promotes traditional Christian views on marriage and sexuality, has already made its way through the California state assembly after it was approved on the floor Thursday. The bill now goes to the state Senate for a vote.

Screenshot of http://yournewswire.com/california-brown-ban-bibles/

In reality Assembly Bill 2943 is not an order from the Governor but an initiative from California Assembly Member Evan Low that still has to be voted on before it becomes law. It also doesn't ban the bible (or any religious books). The full text of the bill doesn't even mention the words "bible", "book" or "text" at all.

The relevant parts of the bill are these lines:

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:

...

(28) Advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.

Selling bibles does not fall under this prohibition and nor would the sale of texts generally disapproving or criticizing homosexuality. It would ban advertisting for such books, therapies etc. if it was done with the explicitly stated goal of changing people's sexual orientation (i.e. gay conversion therapy etc.).

A bible ban would go directly against the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and would be struck down in a heartbeat by the Supreme Court.

But this bill doesn't limit anyone's free speech: people would still be able to say a certain sexual orientation is sinful or goes against religious teachings or should be considered immoral etc. Strictly reading this bill people would still be allowed to publish tips or methods to change one's sexual orientation as long as it would not result in "the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer".

Confusion around the purpose of the bill seems to have mainly originated from a television interview with conservative politician Travis Allen that misrepresented the consequences of this bill by claiming it would ban the bible:

Snopes already pointed out the many inaccuracies in that interview:

FACT CHECK: Would a Proposed Law 'Ban the Bible' in California?

Assembly Bill 2943 would prohibit the sale of Bibles in California. False In April 2018, the right-wing One America News Network (OAN) interviewed California State Assembly member Travis Allen, who is running for governor as a Republican, about Assembly Bill 2943, a proposed law currently before state legislators.

That makes the summary of the YourNewsWire article visible on social media completely inaccurate:

California Gov. Jerry Brown To Ban Sales Of The Bible

The Bible includes verses that fall outside what Gov. Jerry Brown considers "acceptable teaching" on sexuality issues.

Governor Brown is not involved, the bible is not even mentioned in the bill and the phrase "acceptable teaching" is also not present anywhere in the text.

YourNewsWire has published several hoaxes and fake news articles in the past so anything they write or publish should be taken with a large grain of salt. Their Facebook page "The People's Voice" recently lost its verification checkmark according to a report from MMFA.

The Terms of Use of the site also make it clear they don't really stand behind the accuracy of any of their reporting:

THE PEOPLE'S VOICE, INC. AND/OR ITS SUPPLIERS MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS ABOUT THE SUITABILITY, RELIABILITY, AVAILABILITY, TIMELINESS, AND ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION, SOFTWARE, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND RELATED GRAPHICS CONTAINED ON THE SITE FOR ANY PURPOSE.

The site was profiled in the Hollywood reporter where it was described as:

Your News Wire, a 3-year-old website of murky facts and slippery spin, is published by Sean Adl-Tabatabai and Sinclair Treadway -- a Bernie Sanders supporter in 2016 -- out of an apartment in L.A.'s historic El Royale.

RationalWiki described it as:

YourNewsWire (styled as YourNewsWire.com[1]) is an Los Angeles-based clickbait fake news website known for disseminating conspiracy theories and misleading information, contrary to its claimed motto ("News. Truth. Unfiltered").[1]

A while ago we also reported that YourNewsWire had rebranded itself as NewsPunch by changing its domain name in an apparent effort to evade filtering/blocking. It appears the site has changed back to it's old name in the mean time but you can still see the NewsPunch name in the contact email address in the footer.

We wrote about yournewswire.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

Updates:

: Added video of the interview

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk
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