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A Matter of Faith?
CBN News ^ | October 12th, 2003 | Dale Hurd

Posted on 10/13/2004 7:38:55 AM PDT by missyme

BORGHOLM, SWEDEN - Inside a small Pentecostal church in southern Sweden, worshippers pray for their pastor, that somehow he won't have to go to prison for the crime of preaching against homosexuality. Sweden was at the forefront of the sexual revolution, and today is at the forefront of the gay agenda. As in many European nations, homosexuality has been embraced by society as a human right, and glorified in the media.

One pastor decided to stand up to what he saw as the growing acceptance of homosexuality here. But because of the way he said it, he has been sentenced to jail.

Green said, "I was watching television, reading the newspaper, listening to high-profile people, actors, singers, glorifying the homosexual lifestyle. And I was worried, and I was concerned, and I felt a deep burden in my heart to speak on that particular topic."

Green prepared the sermon last year, on what the Bible says about homosexuality, with the intention that the townspeople of Borgholm come to hear him. But attendance was disappointing. So Åke Green had his sermon published in the local newspaper. In it, he compared the sin of Sweden to the sin of Sodom.

And he warned, "…our country is facing a disaster of great proportions! Of that we can be sure. God said the land would vomit out its inhabitants…Our country is facing a disaster."

But it was how he described sexual practices like homosexuality that brought the charge against him:

Green said, "What I said was that sexual abnormality was like a cancer of the society."

Or more precisely in English, a "cancerous tumor."

He ended his sermon with grace, and with respect for those living in sexual sin, saying, "What these people need, who live under the slavery of sexual immorality, is an abundant grace. It exists. Therefore we will encourage those who live in this manner to look at the grace of Jesus Christ. We cannot condemn these people. Jesus never belittled anyone. He offered them grace."

But his ending did not matter. The sermon was seen by local gays and the district prosecutor, and Green was convicted in a district court and given a month in jail, a sentence not yet served because he is appealing the conviction.

Green's defense attorney is also the chairman of the Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Percy Bratt. He said, "The very basic question that is raised in this matter is to what extent it is criminal to teach from the words in the Bible, so to say?"

The hate speech law used to convict Green was first intended to protect Jews and other ethnic minorities from Nazi sympathizers. But in more recent times, the law was amended to also protect sexual orientation.

Bratt remarked that "The wording of this provision is (SIC) very general, so the area that shall be criminalized is up to the court."

The district prosecutor in the case refused to speak with CBN News, but we were able to speak with Sweden's national gay and lesbian organization in Stockholm, the RFSL, which supports Green's conviction.

A spokesman for the group, Robert Karlsson Svärd, said, "Hatred and defamation is not to be accepted, just because it's based on religious beliefs or religious scriptures. It's - you have some limits when it comes to freedom of speech."

But the Åke Green case is becoming an embarrassment for a nation that prides itself on its tolerance. It may also be a catalyst.

Prominent Swedish pastor Ulf Ekman was almost charged with the same offense, but the prosecutor dropped the case. Ekman says most pastors ignored his call for a nationwide campaign to challenge the law, by preaching against homosexuality: “As far as I know,” said Ekman, “he and I are the only ones who have said anything about this… I think that in this case, Pastor Green is very isolated. Many, many pastors have backed off, and even those that agree with him are very silent.”

Josef Östby, a noted missionary and pastor in Sweden's Pentecostal movement, hopes God is using an unknown preacher from a small town to awaken a nation.

Östby said, "I felt it like a prophetic message for our time in Sweden."

Östby added, "A kind person like Green, silent, is working in a small church and today, the whole country are talking about it, and countries are touched by his simple message."

But support for Green among some Swedish evangelical leaders has been surprisingly lukewarm. Green blames them for acquiescing to the homosexual agenda. He said he draws his inspiration from the Old Testament prophets: "We have read about Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, and Amos. They were living in times of spiritual decline. I believe we are dealing with a spiritual dimension here. The evangelical churches don't want a confrontation with what's going on in the Swedish society, and that makes them silent."

Green's attorney says the case will now go to an appeals court, and if needed, to Sweden's Supreme Court, and even to the European Court, if necessary. He says the district judge misapplied the law.

Bratt said, "The court must, when applying this provision, make a balancing act between the right of homosexuals and the right of the freedom of religion and the right of the freedom of expression, and we say that the court has not made proper such balancing."

But other nations are moving in the same direction, or already have similar laws, including Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Östby calls Green's conviction a tragedy for democracy in Sweden: "We cannot in Sweden be known for things like putting a pastor in jail for a sermon. This is impossible."

But RFSL spokesman Svärd said that one month in jail is not long enough for Green. He hopes that a higher court will impose a longer sentence.

The district attorney has said that six to eight months would be more appropriate when it comes to this crime, and we cannot do anything else but to agree with that.

Pastor Green said he was not afraid to go to prison for this. Green said, “I am not a criminal, I don't feel like a criminal, but this new law makes us preachers as criminals if we speak up."

Some say Pastor Green has awakened Swedish evangelicals on the issue of homosexuality. He has certainly created an uncomfortable dividing line for church leaders, whether to speak boldly about what the Bible says about homosexuality, or not.

An otherwise overlooked pastor has done something to grab the attention of a nation. Åke Green says he was just obeying God.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 10/13/2004 7:38:55 AM PDT by missyme
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To: missyme

He has certainly created an uncomfortable dividing line for church leaders, whether to speak boldly about what the Bible says about homosexuality, or not.


Sorting sheep and goats is not easy.


2 posted on 10/13/2004 7:42:29 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple (seeking the truth here folks.)
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To: missyme

He has certainly created an uncomfortable dividing line for church leaders, whether to speak boldly about what the Bible says about homosexuality, or not.


Sorting sheep and goats is not easy.


3 posted on 10/13/2004 7:43:15 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple (seeking the truth here folks.)
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To: missyme

Interesting how the left thinks Europe is so enlightened and we dumb Americans have completely alienated Europeans.. If this is the kind of thinking that's going on over there, I'm grateful we're not liked.


4 posted on 10/13/2004 7:47:19 AM PDT by Wonderama (,)
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To: missyme

of course it's not illegal to preach hate if it's from the Koran...


5 posted on 10/13/2004 7:55:01 AM PDT by Awestruck (The artist formerly known as Goodie D)
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To: missyme

Some people make it their life's work to concern themselves with the consensual sexual activities of others.

While I don't understand such compulsion and find that kind of crusading to be a form of agitating and needlessly provocative, I don't think anyone should be imprisoned for it.


6 posted on 10/13/2004 7:58:28 AM PDT by tdadams ('Unfit for Command' is full of lies... it quotes John Kerry)
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To: tdadams

I don't have a problem with the fact that homosexuals exist, and that they practice their craft. I don't go out of my way denouncing homosexuality or any other sin. I think what causes the problem is the fact that "society" is trying to remove homosexuality from the list of what would normally be determined sin. This minister who is in trouble was basically trying to remind people that the homo lifestyle is indeed sinful.


7 posted on 10/13/2004 8:16:17 AM PDT by Sans-Culotte
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To: tdadams

I think you have to distinguish between homosexuals quietly doing their thing and homosexuals publicly speaking out and insisting that homosexuality is a good thing, school children should be taught that it is a good thing, and so forth.

In modern society there has generally been toleration of homosexuals. But it's quite another thing to impose homosexuality on the whole society.

Keep in mind that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, apparently, not just because there were homosexuals in the community but because their sexual immorality had grown completely rampant and out of hand. The city dwellers called on Lot to send out his young male guests so they could be raped. We seem to be moving toward such a point when the law defends homosexuals regardless of what they say but condemns anyone who questions this political process.


8 posted on 10/13/2004 8:17:41 AM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Cicero
I think you have to distinguish between homosexuals quietly doing their thing and homosexuals publicly speaking out and insisting that homosexuality is a good thing

Are they presenting homosexuality as a good thing (i.e. preferable to heterosexuality) or are they presenting it neutrally (i.e. no better and no worse than heterosexuality, but a mere co-existence in the continuum of human traits)?

I think too many people believe it's the former where I believe it's almost entirely the latter.

9 posted on 10/13/2004 8:39:04 AM PDT by tdadams ('Unfit for Command' is full of lies... it quotes John Kerry)
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To: tdadams
or are they presenting it neutrally (i.e. no better and no worse than heterosexuality, but a mere co-existence in the continuum of human traits)

They don't need to present it at all. Remember "Fistgate"? They were doing questions and answers that young students had about the "gay lifestyle", including the finer points of "fisting".

Can't these guys just bugger themselves quietly and leave the rest of us out of it?

10 posted on 10/13/2004 11:59:23 AM PDT by Sans-Culotte
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