Ake Green is back in trouble. Pastor Green was convicted last year of violating Sweden’s “hate crimes”; law by preaching against homosexuality. The Pentecostal pastor had spoken of homosexuality as sinful, sick, and dangerous as he preached a message from the Bible to his congregation. He was sentenced to thirty days in prison for his offense, but the sentence was suspended. Just a few weeks ago, an appeals court reversed his conviction, arguing that a sermon based in the Bible and delivered before a Christian congregation did not constitute “hate speech.” Now, BBC News is reporting that Sweden’s Supreme Court has announced that it will review his acquittal. During Green’s original trial, Swedish prosecutor Kjell Yngvesson justified the pastor’s prosecution as a criminal: “One may have whatever religion one wishes, but [Ake Green’s sermon] is an attack on all fronts against homosexuals. Collecting Bible [texts] on this topic as he does makes this hate speech.” Keep Pastor Green firmly in mind when you hear talk of ‘hate speech’ laws. We’ll follow the case closely.
FOR FURTHER READING: My commentary from August 5, 2004, “Criminalizing Christianity: Sweden’s Hate Speech Law.” News coverage at Christianity Today: “No Free Speech in Preaching,” August 9, 2004; “‘Hate Speech’ Law Could Chill Sermons,” July 25, 2002.