In the ideologically “blue” state of California, secularism and hostility toward Christian values seems to be at an all-time high.
In 2016, the End of Life Option Act became law, permitting medically assisted suicide for terminally ill residents 18 and older who request life-ending medication from their physicians.
In 2017, the Supreme Court let stand legislation that banned so-called gay conversion therapy for minors. Signed into law in 2012 by Gov. Jerry Brown, it made California the first state in the nation to outlaw such treatment, making counseling for same-sex attraction illegal, even if the minor and their parents sought help.
This spring, the California Assembly has been considering a bill that would make it illegal for anyone, including pastors and licensed therapists, to treat people seeking help for unwanted same-sex attraction or behavior, regardless of their age. The bill states: “California has a compelling interest in protecting consumers from false and deceptive practices that claim to change sexual orientation and in protecting consumers against exposure to serious harm caused by sexual orientation change efforts.”
The United States Congress is following suit. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), along with two senators, Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), have introduced a bill known as The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act to ban conversion therapy nationwide. According to The Washington Post, about 70 other members of Congress, all Democrats, have said they support the bill, which would allow the Federal Trade Commission to classify conversion therapy and its practitioners as fraudulent.
At the beginning of this year, recreational marijuana was legalized with dispensaries across the state. The marijuana market is expected to bring in billions in revenue this year alone. Also, the state is targeting pro-life pregnancy centers by forcing them to advertise for the abortion industry.
Adding to these concerns, Gov. Brown signed a law that went into effect this year designating California as a sanctuary state. Sanctuary laws limit police cooperation with federal immigration authorities and often prevent prosecution of crimes committed by illegal immigrants.
Finally, a bullet to religious freedom was dodged last year when a discriminatory provision in a new law was considered but ultimately withdrawn. As originally proposed, the measure would have prevented religious higher-education institutions from enforcing standards of conduct for their faculty and students, thereby trampling on each respective school’s doctrinal statement and distinctive Christian mission.
The majority in the California Legislature seems bent on removing any remaining vestige of a Biblical worldview.
But Franklin Graham aims to pierce this prevailing blue wall of secularism and left-wing activism with the eternal hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through a series of one-day prayer and evangelism events in 10 cities across California, the Decision America California Tour will bring Christian music and a straightforward Gospel message to what organizers hope will be a divine appointment for thousands of lost souls.
The Decision America California Tour was conceived and each city specifically selected as a direct result of what God put on Franklin’s heart in prayer for where He would have BGEA go, said Vice President of Church Ministry Steve Rhoads.
Although 63 percent of adults in California consider themselves Christians, less than 55 percent say they are absolutely certain there is a God, according to the 2014 Religious Landscape Study by the Pew Research Center. Yet despite these statistics, some faithful churches are ready to give an answer to their neighbors for the hope that they have.
“People are born with a vacuum, a spiritual vacuum,” Rhoads said. “We have the answer to that, and it’s found in the Gospel. It’s found in peace with God.
“This tour is important,” he continued, “because we have the opportunity to give people the only answer to the problem that everyone faces—being separated from God. And we can offer people the chance to be reconciled to God, have their sins forgiven and their lives forever changed.”
California Christians are thrilled about the Tour, which starts May 20 in Escondido and concludes June 5 in Redding. Some have prayed for years that God would bring revival to the state, and in preparation for the events in May, churches from across denominational lines have joined together for community-wide prayer meetings, asking God to save lost souls and strengthen pastors and churches.
“There’s a lot of unity, and there’s a lot of excitement,” said Todd Hitchcock, senior pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Escondido. “I think that doing the events this way, in kind of a smaller setting versus a large stadium, is really a Spirit-led decision because you’re getting right into the heart of things, the heart of where people live and where they walk. … My prayer is that this is not just an event, but this becomes a springboard for the movement of God in our communities throughout California.”