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“Jailed” Swedish Preacher Campaigning For Prop 8

Jim Burroway

October 29th, 2008

Proponent’s for California’s Proposition 8 have brought over a preacher from Sweden, who they say was jailed for preaching against homosexuality as a warning of what could happen in California if Prop 8 fails. However, a radio journalist from Sweden reports that the preacher’s back story isn’t true.

The New York Times reported on Monday:

[T]he “Yes on 8” campaign has brought over from Sweden a pastor named Ake Green, who a few years ago was sentenced to a month in prison under Sweden’s law banning hate speech, because he gave a sermon denouncing homosexuality. Mr. Green’s testimony was featured in a 90-minute “Yes on 8” satellite simulcast that was recently downlinked to 170 churches throughout the state.

“He is a symbol of what is ahead,” said the Rev. Jim Garlow, the senior pastor of Skyline Church in the San Diego area, a leading organizer of the “Yes” ranks.

The Times report implied that Åke Green was jailed for his beliefs. Anti-gay activists often assert that he was actually jailed for preaching against homosexuality. Swedish radio journalist , who has covered the story, wrote to Box Turtle Bulletin to explain what really happened:

The Swedish pastor Åke Green was sentenced to prison by the lower court, but acquitted by the two higher courts including the Supreme Court. He has NOT been jailed. The only thing the Åke Green-case proves is that religious freedom is strongly protected, even in a country with hate speech laws such as Sweden.

You can find pastor Greens sermon on this supporter-site: http://akegreen.org/en-2-left/en-2-9.htm

The case proves that it is OK to preach that homosexuality is a “cancerous tumour in the entire society.” It’s also OK to say that AIDS is “a consequence of homosexuality.”

In 2007 the Supreme Court also acquitted a Christian blogger, who was prosecuted for a discussion on his blog, where a blog commenter stated that homosexuals should be hanged upon stakes as punishment and a warning. The commenter also wrote that the sooner a sodomite meets his hangman, the better. (When the homosexual is dead, he can’t commit any sins, hence it’s better for him to be dead…) According to Swedish law the owner of a blog is responsible for everything written on it, but he was acquitted, partly because of technical issues. The Supreme Court judged that the texts weren’t hate speech, but a religious and biblical discussion about homosexuality.”

As Tor pointed out, even in a country where hate speech laws are enforced, strong exceptions have been made to protect religious expression. In other words, religious leaders are perfectly free to hate as long as they wrap their hatred around religious themes.

American courts, on the other hand, have consistently struck down attempts to enact hate speech laws. Which is why the Klan has been protected by civil authorities whenever they want to protest on the courthouse square.

Anti-gay extremists who warn that advancement of equality for gays and lesbians mean that their freedoms will be curtailed are not being truthful. They are either woefully ignorant of the Constitution here in the U.S. as well as events abroad, or they are lying. Take your pick.

Comments

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L. Junius Brutus
October 29th, 2008 | LINK

They’re lying. They’re afraid that their bigotry will become as socially unacceptable as racism – which it should be.

NG
October 29th, 2008 | LINK

Ake Green on the ABC’s Of Protecting Marriage:

http://www.brightcove.tv/title.jsp?title=1877355964

Jonathan Justice
October 29th, 2008 | LINK

It should be pretty clear that what is threatened here is the “freedom” to exercise privileged status over an out-group. It is a classic stew of the manipulative confusion of the broad conceptual framework of attempting a very nearly universalized liberty with the very particularized historic rights and privileges that various groups of people have negotiated within strongly hierarchical societies.

American slaveholders viewed themselves as being free to hold slaves. While their high end propagandists argued that that was a universal right for high achieving persons, their low end enforcers made it clear that one had to be white to hold slaves and live in this country. Over this “ancient liberty” and the question of the states rights to protect it from national legislation, American society fought a considerable Civil War. When Ms. Beecher-Stowe and Mr. Olmstead wrote books to suggest that the fact of ongoing abuse of the parties held as slaves and the extensive damage the slaveholding system was doing to the culture of the rest of the people in the slaveholding states indicated that slaveholding was severely problematical, the young Queen Victoria agreed, but many others attacked them rather than the abuses. This made it pretty clear that what was being defended was a privilege rather than a universal right.

This did not keep a lot of people who could not afford slaves from defending their “right” to hold slaves or buying into the scheme that held that they were somehow better persons than any who might be held as slaves. (It is only a little curious that the “traditional” conceptual framework of slavery did not work that way.)

You do the parallels.

John
October 29th, 2008 | LINK

It should be pretty clear that what is threatened here is the “freedom” to exercise privileged status over an out-group.

EXACTLY!!! If the First Amendment were being abused in prosecuting these folks for their religious views, I’d be right by their side in defending them. Why? The reason is obvious: my rights would be threatened as well. No, this has nothing to do with the First Amendment and everything to do with the Fourteenth, at least when it comes to how the law is applied to gays.

CLS
October 30th, 2008 | LINK

Hate speech laws are counterproductive and immoral. Individuals have the right to hold stupid opinions and to voice those opinions. And others have the right to dispute them for those opinions — and the right to boycott, and insult them for said opinions.

Anyone who wants to allow only the “right to be correct” is someone who is an enemy of human rights. Everyone has granted this right including the worst dictators in the world — the mere difference has been over what they deemed “correct”.

These badly conceived, illiberal pieces of legislation are biting gays in the backside and are being used to justify denying legitimate rights. So we have a sort of Gresham’s law of rights at work wher illegitimate rights (the bogus right to be protected from the bad opinions of others) is driving legitimate rights (marriage) out of the legal marketplace.

Timothy Kincaid
October 30th, 2008 | LINK

CLS,

In the United States, most of us are opposed to hate speech laws. As a whole, we support the right of bigots and loons to say what they will. This is a very American tradition.

And hate speech will continue to be protected by the first amendment to the US Constitution.

All of which is why bringing someone from Sweden to serve as a (false) example of what can (but didn’t) happen is all the more disingenuous.

ucla d
October 30th, 2008 | LINK

Please don’t take my comments with any malice. I apologize if I offend anyone.

Brutus- When was “bigotry” socially acceptable. I am confused on what you understant bigotry to be. Certainly, BEING black, and PRACTICING homosexuality are not the same. You can’t claim a behavior as an identity. This is no longer about individuals’ identity. This is about support for behavior. For example, look up CT’s recent ruling. They call sexual orientation a “quasi-class.” In law, whenever a judge says the word “quasi,” it means, “I don’t really know what I’m talking about.”

Jim- I feel that you’re missing the whole point. Why do these people even have to go to court in the first place? Why must they appeal again and again until they reach the supreme court and win? Why must they spend millions of dollars to go through any lawsuit? Lawsuit after lawsuit. Look at the BSA. Millions and millions of dollars in trivial lawsuits, again and again having to appeal until they reach the Supreme court, and in last desperation…win. Why can’t we have a group exclusive to heterosexuals be supported indirectly by the government? The BSA wasn’t stopping anyone from starting the Gay-BSA. Yet, individuals in the gay community, through litigation, destroyed a good organization, indirectly removed hundreds of troops from city, school, and community sponsorships, and eliminated any government funding all because the organization didn’t want their scoutmasters telling scouts that homosexuality was ok. And, it was all done in the name of “separation of church and state.”

On a similar note, churches’ tax exempt status generally falls under the religious organization section of the 501c3 charitable organization. The criteria for this status requires no discrimination. Judges decide the level of discrimination that is tolerable, since “no discrimination” based on all protected classes is nearly impossible. This becomes part of common law. While prop 8 is a state issue, most likely the sexual orientation/marriage, etc. issue will go to the federal level within, I say, 10 years. (If prop 8 fails) This is where 501c3 status will be threatened. Here is the argument. It is very simple.

“xyz church/mosque/synagogue says that homosexuality is wrong. They preach it in their establishment. They do not allow individuals who practice homosexuality to join their church. They do not allow same-sex marriages. (Even private property) Clearly, they discriminate against a protected “identity” (when it is clearly a “behaviorial” issue in these circumstances since most churches involve allow non-practicing homosexuals full-fellowship, still to be worked out at the federal level, but may go that far by then) that is protected. Why are we giving them tax exemption status?” It will then be up to the judges to rule.

To say that the Yes on 8 campaign is not telling the truth shows the deceit of individuals in the gay community trying to hide their eventual intentions. I don’t mean this in an offensive way. We know where this is going. I know. My father-in-law is gay. He tells me all of the time. These are not scare tactics. These are real court cases. Even if it is not your intentions (meaning you specifically), you only need one person to sue. Yes on 8 won’t necessarily stop the above scenario from happening, but it will at least give judges something to work with. If 8, and statutes in other states change, fail, the courts will have little to work with.

Look at the fertility doctor in San Diego. Even though the lesbian couple was referred to another doctor, the couple still sued. This is no longer about support for an individual. A doctor should help sick individuals, gay or straight. However, performing the procedure was clearly in support of their behavior and relationship, which was contrary to the doctor’s beliefs. (Whether religious or not is irrelevant. Individuals should not be forced to support any type of behavior. Identity yes. Behavior NO. This is where the line has been crossed.) Despite that, the judges had nothing to work with, and UNANIMOUSLY (even the conservative ones) ruled against the doctor.

Finally, your scare tactics about bigotry, etc. are getting tiresome. I don’t mean to be rude. My father-in-law is gay. I love him very much. I do not hate him. Not all, but some individuals in the gay community insist that their behavior, not identity, be given the same protection as their identity. To many Yes on 8 individuals, this issue is like a man suing the government to be a bride. You’re a man. You can’t be a bride. Yet, we are called bigots, etc.

By the way, the No on 8 campaign doesn’t even mention the phrase “gay marriage” in any of their commercials. Girl running to wedding to meet…a man, Feinstein, quoting the editorials of the L.A. Times. Nowhere. If they have free speech, they sure don’t use it.

Again, I can be a little sharp at times, but I don’t mean any offense. I hope you actually post this.

ucla d
October 30th, 2008 | LINK

Sorry. I meant to write…”acceptable?” with a question mark.

Timothy Kincaid
October 31st, 2008 | LINK

ucla d,

Your argument is based on a false premise: that orientation equates to behavior. Homosexuality is the attribute of having sexual, emotional, and romantic attraction to persons of the same sex rather than of the opposite sex regardless of ones behavior.

As for perhaps being gay and not “practicing” homosexuality, I don’t much care if you disappove or not. That’s fine. But the LAW and the COURTS and the GOVERNMENT cannot say that “homosexual behavior” and heterosexual behavior will be treated differently solely because of the orientation of the persons so engaged. In other words, a behavior between a man (such as getting married) and another man cannot be treated differently in California than that identical behavior between a man and a woman.

As for the BSA, they are legally allowed to exclude gay persons, a court decision I applaud. I also applaud those organizations and donors who cannot in good faith give money to a group that discriminates.

As for church tax law, you are clearly not informed. Your statement is just flat wrong. Churches can and do discriminate all the time and have specific constitutional protection to do so.

As for the lesbian denied services from her health care provider (the only one authorized by her health plan), how would that change if Prop 8 passes? Doctors still can’t provide services to heterosexuals and deny them to gays and lesbians.

And finally, bigotry is not the same thing as hatred. Bigotry is mistreatment or even negative attitudes about another person due to an attribute of that person. One doesn’t have to hate black people to be a racist (one form of bigotry), one just has to think that black people are inferior or not worthy of equal treatment because they are black (or engage in “black behavior”).

If you find that you think that gay persons are inferior to you or that they are not worthy of equal treatment because they are gay or engage in gay “behavior”, then you are partaking in bigotry. There are arguments in the arena of same-sex marriage that are NOT based in bigotry, but sadly most of those of the Yes on 8 Campaign are so based.

I don’t doubt your sincerity. But you are very ill informed.

And it is both sad and frustrating to have you argue from a position of ignorance. But somehow I doubt that I can sway you to rethink your claims. Many who come here making such statements already have their conclusion and are just looking for arguments to support it.

I do truly hope that you will spend some time researching what you believe. I think you’ll find that no arguments in favor of Proposition 8 are based in truth.

Louie
October 31st, 2008 | LINK

You know what, Mr. Kincaid hit the nail right on the head!

I find it extremely frustrating to engage these “yes on prop. xxx” individuals that REFUSE to think for themselves and spend at least 5 minutes to do their own research and arrive at their own logical conclusions.

But they don’t do it! WHY!? What is wrong with these people!!!???

And THEY are supposed to grant ME my civil RIGHTS!!!???

BEAM ME UP SCOTTY!!!


California – Vote “NO” on Prop. 8!
Arizona – Vote “NO” on Prop. 102! AGAIN!
Florida – Vote “NO” on Amendment 2!
Connecticut – Vote “NO” on Question 1!

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