Åke Green, who leads a congregation in Borgholm on the Swedish island of Öland, is being tried under Swedish laws that ban ‘agitation against minority groups’.
Initially, he was sentenced to a month in prison by a Kalmar court. The Appeal Court in Jönköping overturned the verdict, only for the prosecutor to take the case to the country’s highest court.
In a sharp exchange with Stefan Johansson, from the office of the Prosecutor General, Green defended his sermon.
“These are not my own thoughts and opinions,” he declared.
“When one prays and contemplates, the Holy Spirit comes with words and expressions.”
Johansson, who wants the pastor to be jailed, asked Green where he found biblical support for the assertion that homosexuality was a grave sin.
“The story of Sodom and Gomorrah,” replied Green.
“Isn’t that about rape,” asked Johansson, to which Green replied that his experience from his pastoral work supported his claim that homosexuals were more likely than others to become paedophiles.
Green was met by supporters outside the court after giving evidence. A crowd of several hundred mainly evangelical Christian backers had gathered to demonstrate against Green’s conviction.
Robin Svedman, from Stockholm, told The Local he was demonstrating because “we want people to be able to preach the word of God without going to prison for it.”
“We don’t think that this is hate propaganda, because it is not against homosexuals as people. God hates the sin, but loves the sinner,” he said.
Pro-gay protestors, who had been there to protest when Green arrived at court, were not there to see him leave.
Leaving court, Green said he thought the hearing had “gone well.”
“I expect the supreme court to make a serious judgment,” he told The Local
Asked what it would mean if the judgment went against him, Green replied:
“It would mean that I would go to prison.”
“But,” he added, “it was not the purpose of this law for courts to judge what pastors should be able to preach.”
The Supreme Court is now expected to deliberate for some time before returning with a judgment.