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'Gay sermon' preacher causes temperance society crisis

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10:03 CET+01:00
The expulsion of controversial pentecostalist pastor Åke Green has caused a crisis at temperance society IOGT-NTO.

IOGT-NTO has lost 1,200 members since the January 29th decision to ban Åke Green. Green was banned for his outspoken views on homosexuals.

The temperance society's board called a crisis meeting with its district heads on Saturday to address the controversy. Christian website Dagen.se reported that the meeting was heated and there were calls to lift the ban on Green.

Many of the society's districts are concerned at the number of members that will eventually decide to leave the organisation and the resultant economic impact on their operations. Kalmar, Green's home district, and Jönköping, in the heart of Sweden's bible belt, are reported to be the hardest hit.

"Åke Green was acquitted by the Supreme Court in 2005 and suddenly we expel him. It is totally devastating for us to lose so many members," said Kalmar district chairperson Gunilla Nilsson to Dagen.se.

IOGT-NTO vice-chairman, Anna Carlstedt, underlined that the board stands behind its decision and explained that while the society supports the right to freedom of speech, Åke Green's continued media exposure and regular insulting attacks against homosexuals forced the society to take action.

"He maintains a far too high profile," Carlstedt said of the unrepentant pastor.

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