Case against Åke Green heard in Appellate Court in Jönköping, Sweden
on January 19, 2005
After his conviction and sentencing in Lower Court ("Tingsrätten") in Kalmar, Pastor Green decided to appeal his case to the Appellate Court ("Hovrätten") in Jönköping. By now the case had started to attract quite a bit of media attention.
At the day of the trial on January 19, 2005, a line of people, wanting to attend, started to form hours before the 9 AM start of the trial. Both the courtroom and an adjacent theater - a couple of hundred in capacity with direct TV-link - were filled to capacity. Some 50 journalists, including representatives from abroad, were in attendance.
The tape of Pastor Green's sermon was first played. The proceedings started with presentations from both sides. The prosecutor, Kjell Yngvesson, argued that the new Swedish law in this case takes precedence over the European convention on human rights. Green's defense attorney, Percy Bratt, stated that the international conventions on human rights support Green's right to freely preach the sermon in question.
In his closing argument Yngvesson stated that due to the wide publicity of Green’s sermon the crime falls in the “major” category and argued for a six months jail sentence (the maximum sentence is 4 years in prison).
Bratt argued point by point against the conclusions reached by the Lower Court (Kalmar's Tingsrätt) and pleaded for a complete acquittal of Åke Green.
After the trial I spoke with Pastor Green on the phone. He felt the trial went well and was very pleased with his attorney's work on his behalf. He also felt that the support from many other Christians was growing. The group Europe Network among others were outside the courthouse demonstrating on his behalf.
The Appellate Court hearing came just a few days after the Swedish government substantially boosted their financial support of RFSL, the organization bringing the charges against Pastor Green. Now the RFSL can spend the additional 18 million SEK (Swedish "kronor") - about $2.6 mill.- on what they themselves refer to as "sexual-political initiatives". This grant is in addition to millions already received from the government for the various activities by RFSL.
The Amazing Aftermath of the Court Hearing
The most noteworthy event on January 19 was not the court hearing per se which evolved pretty much as expected. Instead something happened on the News in Sweden that evening. Recall that the Swedish Radio/TV monopoly last summer received the RFSL award as the most avid and loyal promoter of the gay platform in Sweden? Well, when reporting on the day's event on the evening news of January 19, they invited to their studio two of Pastor Green's harshest critics to comment on the day's event. Both of them were representatives of religious organizations.
1. Critic number 1 - Erik Slottner
The first individual that Swedish Radio/TV had brought to the studio was none other that Mr. Erik Slottner, the leader of KDU (Christian Democratic Youth Organization). The Christian Democrats (KD) is a political party founded in the 1960-ies by Lewi Petrus, the late founder of the Pentecostal Revival Movement (Pingströrelsen) in Sweden. He saw the need for the party to counter the moral decay he saw in the existing political system. From the beginning the KD's youth department was meant to provide firm Christian guidance and foster healthy moral principles for the coming generation. Well, Mr. Erik Slottner - an avowed homosexual advocating the gay platform - is today the unrivaled leader for the KDU.
In July of last year there was a sort of power struggle for the heart and soul of KDU. Steffan Axelsson opposed Erik Slottner for his avowed homosexual lifestyle and saw him as an improper person to lead - among all things - the youth branch of the KD party. But Slottner prevailed and Axelsson resigned in protest. After his victory Slottner stated about Axelsson: "I think it's good that he leaves the party. We are in need of an ideological cleansing. People with such views shall have no room in our party". Well folks, there you have it! What started as a minor infestation of gay ideology pretty soon corrupted the whole youth branch of KD. Today there's no room for disagreement and the decay is progressing among the young people. KDU of today serves no good purpose for the Kingdom. Quite the opposite as it encourages the young generation to lifestyle choices from the pits of hell. Jesus gave a parable about the vineyard. "I'm the vine, you are the branches. The branch that withers and bear no fruit will be cut off". Today, the important youth branch of KDU can no longer bear fruit and has been cut off. The people of Jesus' days could relate to a vineyard. The people of Sweden today don't know about vineyards. A more relevant and understandable parable for today's Swedes would be cancer. That the cancer grows like a tumor and will have to be cut off. Neither Jesus, nor Åke Green mean of course that people on the withered branch or cancer infested body part shall be killed. Far from that. As long as a person lives there's hope for repentance, forgiveness and restoration (in that order).
Needless to say, "brother" Slottner strongly recommended that Pastor Green should serve time in prison for his sermon.
2. Critic number 2 - Sten-Gunnar Hedin
Pastor Sten-Gunnar Hedin is pastor for the largest church in Sweden, the Filadelfia church in Stockholm, Sweden. Like Pastor Green's church in Borgholm it's part of the Pentecostal denomination. Since it's by far the largest church in Sweden, Pastor Hedin is also one of the de-facto leaders of the denomination.
Even though Hedin only a week before the trial had - as co-writer of an article - expressed support for Green, he once again took the opportunity to attack Green together with Slottner. Hedin expressed his displeasure with his fellow pastor in his denomination. He did not like the fact that Green had likened sexual perversions to a cancerous tumor. 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". Green has asked Hedin for a public correction and apology which has not been forthcoming. Green believes that this distinction is very important since Jesus himself made a distinction between sin (that he hated) and the sinner (whom he loved).
However, Hedin never went as far as Slottner in demanding a prison sentence for Green. But somehow Hedin has seen it fit to attack Green at the very times when the courts are deliberating how long sentence Green will have to serve. On the very day that Green's hearing was held in lower court he did a similar attack on his fellow minister in the media (see side bar "The Sodomy in Sweden").
Pastor Hedin still holds that he believes in the Bible. However, from the way he talks it appears that he believes that the origin of homosexuality is somehow from birth rather than the explanation given in Scripture. He appears to have bought into the stated goal by the gay lobby which was stated by Scott Hersherger in 1996 as follows: "Courts will be hard-pressed to uphold discrimination against a group if the group is identified by biological rather than behavioral traits. Public opinion polls, plus empirical research, always tell us that there is a positive correlation between people's beliefs in the immutability of a trait and their acceptance of that trait. So, the more a person believes homosexuality or sexual orientation is biological, the more positively he or she will feel about it."
This phenomenon is something we find time and time again. If people somehow get convinced that - no matter what the Bible says - homosexuality is not a chosen lifestyle, then the doors open wide for acceptance of the behavior. No matter how detrimental it is to both the individual and to society. And often the homosexual person is very nice and friendly. As more and more people have close friends and relatives who are homosexuals, the more the lifestyle becomes accepted as normal even by Christians. People typically don't realize what sets this sin apart from other sins. It's the only sin that demands that it's very lifestyle be deemed acceptable and equal in society and presented to the younger generation as such. We don't have any universal acceptance of other sins. When did you see divorce accepted as something equally good as faithfulness between couples? Or when did you see the Kleptomaniacs parade on the streets of Stockholm or their rainbow flag flying high over city hall. But the homosexual sinful lifestyle demands equal recognition as a healthy heterosexual relationship. And as our youth are lured into thinking that way, therein lies the danger to society.
Take the Swedish archbishop Hammar's sister (Anna Karin Hammar) as an example. She serves as priest ("stiftsadjunkt") in the Swedish Church while at the same time she's an avowed homosexual and openly preaches the virtues of her lifestyle. Although I don't know her personally she may very well be a very lovely person to those who know her. But when she states for the media about her chosen lifestyle as follows: “The situation for me is that I can live as a homosexual precisely because I experience God’s blessing so great that it can overcome prejudices and discrimination” (Uppsala Nya Tidning, November 17, 2004), then her message is not from God. Satan, our sworn enemy, wants to ensnare our young generation into the yoke of homosexuality. To infer that homosexuality needs no repentance, remorse, redemption and restoration (the four Rs), is from the pits of hell. It's an assault at the very core of why Jesus came to this world and made the ultimate sacrifice for all our sins.
A very insightful discussion and analysis of how otherwise perfectly normal people turn into obsessive homosexual sex cravers is found in the description of "Paul" on page 12, 2nd para. of Satinover's book (see Ref.1). It illustrates the meaning of Pastor Green's sermon title ("Evil Forces Playing Mind Games With People).
After taking the case into consideration, the Appellate Court on February 11, 2005 announced their verdict: Not Guilty !
"It feels good to have been acquitted" said Ake Green. But he cautions that this might not be the end of it. "We still have to see if the prosecutor decides to appeal. But, as for now I'm grateful that the Appellate Court decided to look at the issues differently than the Lower Court". He also doesn't believe that the debate that has started on the issue of homosexuality and its effects on society will suddenly just fade away.
In the verdict the Appellate Court declared that Pastor Green's sermon about homosexuality cannot be considered as "incitement against a group of people" but is rather a sermon on a faith that is faithful to the teachings of the Bible. In this way the Appellate Court reversed the previous verdict and sentencing to prison in Lower Court. They declared: "The right to preach a sermon, faithful to the Biblical teaching, must include the possibility to interpret in your own words the Bible, as long as the preaching is based on the message in the Bible".
The verdict was not unanimous. A woman on the panel, a politician from the Social Democratic Party, supported the verdict from the Lower Court and wanted Pastor Green to serve prison time.
Within a short period of time after the acquittal, the prosecutor decided to appeal the verdict to the Swedish Supreme Court (Högsta Domstolen).