Tuesday, August 10, 2004
First they burn our monastaries. Now this.

In England we give Bibles to prisoners for free. In Sweden you get prison for quoting the Bible, which beats paying for prison chaplains. The case of Ake Green, a Pentecostal preacher from Malmo, has been highlighted by Sean Gabb.

What this hapless pastor did was quote the Bible, but about homosexuality. The Bible in general does not approve of homosexuality, and Ake quoted those bits. I really can't do better than quote from Dr Gabb's terse summary of the facts:

In 2003, he preached a sermon during which he referred to homosexuality as "abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumour in the body of society." He also quoted some of the standard biblical injunctions against homosexuality. He was denounced to the authorities and charged under "hate crime" legislation passed in 2002. He stood trial in January 2004, and was in July sentenced to imprisonment for one month.

I'm not at all concerned about how Sweden orders her affairs and so can't share Dr Gabb's libertarian outrage. I don't like the idea of persecuting small Christian churches, but that is the prerogative of a sovereign country (and a democracy to boot). Beneath her modern facade of tolerance Sweden has a proud tradition of being the most bigoted Lutheran state in history (yes that does count Bismarck's Prussia) and she should be allowed to maintain this.

Unfortunately it is not merely down to that. Europe is becoming a state. Of course it may not get there, and the UK may not join this state if it is formed. However there is always the possibility. Besides that Europe will certainly do a lot of damage to our tolerant culture before that.
Europe is becoming more and more hostile to fringe religions, although not always for the blatantly political reasons evident in Sweden. In France and more so in Belgium lists of prescribed sects are maintained. These not only include the usual American suspects such as Scientologists and Moonies but also rather mainstream Christians such as Opus Dei and the Quakers (in Belgium). These groups can be shut down at will by the state.

Germany is more liberal but a combination of a (understandable) nervous attitude towards extreme political groups and the Christian Democrat influence there is a bit of trouble for groups such as the Scientologists. Greece is a case on its own with its strong attachment to the Greek Orthodox Church (it's constitution is devoted to the Trinity) means that some groups - particularly Jehovah's Witnesses.

There has been some talk, stalled admittedly, of developing some sort of pan European religious policy. However to say that some lunatic idea is stalled at the European level, does not mean that it is dead. At the moment this would mean that the rules will be made up by the unaccountable, list elected, politically correct twerps who make up the European Parliament. At first this will only affect the real oddballs, but as each year goes by the target will become less and less fringe. Just look how far Belgium has got.

If you don't want some bigoted Swede or humourless Walloon to decide what you are allowed to believe, then get out of the EU.


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