Homosexual Hate Crime Trial of Swedish Pastor Used as an Opportunity for Evangelization
By John-Henry Westen and Terry Vanderheyden
STOCKHOLM, November 15, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Swedish Pastor Ake Green, appearing before the Swedish Supreme Court Wednesday to answer to a “hate crimes” charge for preaching a sermon on homosexuality in 2003, capitalized on the occasion to evangelize the nation.
Focus on the Family’s representative to the United Nations, Thomas Jacobson, reported that the trial was providentially aired on national television thus providing Green the opportunity to have not only his original sermon but also his defence of it aired nationally.Â“This was unprecedented in Swedish history,” Jacobson said, “that a Supreme Court hearing would be aired nationwide in its entirety.”
“Everybody heard his original sermon first, then they heard him speak for 45 minutes later,” Jacobson said.Â“Just like with the Apostle Paul, when he was arrested and sometimes imprisoned, (Pastor Green) had the opportunity to declare truth and declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ — and the compassion and forgiveness that are available — in unprecedented ways.”
The country is in dire need of evangelization on the matter. Jared N. Leland, Spokesman and Legal Counsel for The Becket Fund - an international, interfaith, public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions – wrote an article in defence of the pastor which was widely published in Sweden last year.Â The Chalcedon Report quoted Leland on the reaction he received. “It got a very hostile response from Swedish newspaper columnists,” he said. “They all say, ‘You don’t understand our culture. This man should go to jail for two years — not six months!’”
On October 31, 2005, The Becket Fund filed its brief to educate the Court about Sweden’s obligation to respect religious exercise, religious expression, and equal protection of the laws—rights that are secured by Articles 18, 19, and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Sweden is a signatory. See the brief here http://www.becketfund.org/files/e160b.pdf
Pastor Green was convicted of a hate crime and sentenced by a district court to one month in prison on June 20, 2004 for preaching a sermon in which he said, “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.” (read the full sermon here: http://www.akegreen.com/sermon_transcript.htm)
The Gota Court of Appeals overturned the conviction on February 11, 2005, but the prosecutor appealed the case to the Supreme Court. If found guilty, Pastor Green could face up to two years in prison.
Pastor Green said, “I think homosexuality and that lifestyle is abnormal and I want to be free to say that,” as part of his televised defence, according to BBC coverage. “My message is that men should live by the laws of creation, which means the normal family set-up with a woman, a man and children.” He also said he preferred jail to community service if convicted.
Swedish Pastor Before Supreme Court November 9 for “Hate Speech” in Sermon