Thursday, December 01, 2005

Preacher's Acquittal on Charges of "Homosexual Hate Speech"

From the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins comes this insightful update on the case of Swedish pastor, Ake Green.

Pastor Ake Green has been acquitted by the Swedish Supreme Court of the charge of hate speech. Sweden's highest court ruled 5-0 that he had not violated laws against speech that "shows contempt" for homosexuals. The Pentecostal leader had delivered a sermon against homosexuality before his congregation. The case attracted international attention. Pastor Green's acquittal brought quick reactions. The leader of the Swedish Christian Democratic Party said it is not the role of courts to decide how the Bible should be interpreted, but Liberal Member of Parliament Birgitta Rydberg replied that Ake Green would probably go to hell when he dies. "That's where you go if you call yourself a Christian and defy the Christian message of love," Rydberg said. Some defenders of Pastor Green called the verdict a "huge victory" for religious freedom.

While I'm pleased for the Pastor and proud of the legal team that championed him, I'm not as upbeat. Pastor Green has been dragged into court, threatened with imprisonment, and he says he will not preach on this topic again. "Everyone knows where I stand on that subject," Ake Green said. This is precisely what is meant by the phrase "a chilling effect." Johan Munck is Chairman of the Swedish Supreme Court. He warned others: "I don't believe this gives the green light for similar sermons." Left unclear by this ruling is whether any Swede who quotes, for example, the Vatican's latest directive against ordaining priests who are involved in the homosexual lifestyle would be prosecuted successfully under that country's hate crimes laws. We thank God that Pastor Green has been spared. But the light from Sweden to preachers around the world is flashing yellow.