The Swedish Supreme Court is about to hear the case of Ake Green, a pastor who was previously convicted, then acquitted of hate speech under the three year old Swedish hate-speech legislation (good link). There are four interesting things about this case.
1. Right to Free Speech
First, his acquittal balanced his right to free speech with the hate speech legislation.
The court ruled that Swedenâ€™s free speech laws protected Pastor Green from prosecution, accepting the argument from The Becket Fundâ€™s brief that the guarantee of freedom of expression means that â€œit is not the role of a government composed of men to declare what is orthodoxy by punishing those who publicly teach one religious view of what is right, even if that view may offend others.â€
The court ruled that Pastor Green had a right to preach about â€œthe Bible’s categorical condemnation of homosexual relations as a sin,â€ even if such views were â€œalien to most citizens.â€
2. Bad Legislation
Second, the language of the legislation is dangerously broad. The good side of this broadness is that it covers not just gays, but any sexual orientation, as well as race, etc. The much worse side is that it basically doesn’t allow you to morally disapprove of a behavior (read "sin"), especially if you are speaking to groups (like a preacher might).
In fact, Christianity Today reported:
"The bill clearly violates the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights," said Johan Candelin, president of the Religious Liberties Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance and a Finnish Lutheran pastor. "If the bill passes, it will place Sweden on level with China, with the state defining which theology is permissible."
Check out the wording of the legislation:
Any person who, through expression or other communication that is disseminated, threatens or expresses disrespect for a group of people or other such group of persons with respect to race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, faith or sexual orientation, shall be found guilty of incitement against a group of people and sentenced to prison in no more than two years or â€“ if considered a minor offense â€“ to fines. If the crime is considered major the sentence is prison in at least six months and no more than four years. When considering whether the crime is major, special consideration shall be given to whether the communication had an especially threatening or disrespectful contents and had been disseminated to a great number of people in a way intended to create substantial attention
In his sermon Green had stated: "sexual abnormalities are like a cancerous tumor". However, Hedin agreed with the monitor that Green had said that "homosexual people are like a cancerous tumor".
4. Muslims will use such laws to attack Christianity too
Fourth, it looks as if Muslims are now taking Christians to court using this same law. What a pain!