“Jailed” Swedish Preacher Campaigning For Prop 8
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 Tor Billgren, 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.