In 2004, Swedish Pentecostal pastor Åke Green preached a sermon in which he denounced homosexuality as a "cancerous tumor" on society. A Swedish court subsequently sentenced him to one month in prison for hate speech (a charge that was eventually dismissed). Americans were shocked by the incident, but not alarmed. After all, those poor Swedes have no First Amendment protection of even the most eccentric religious beliefs, a protection Americans have as a matter of course.
Or do we?
On paper, yes. But American Christians need to take a careful look at what is already happening. Looming ahead through a blurry fog of impending lawsuits and court decisions on gay marriage is a train wreck of epic proportions. Its cause? The determination of the gay rights community to have absolute equality with heterosexuals over the issue of marriage.
Now equality is a good thing, right? After all, the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was all about gaining equality before the law for African Americans. As Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, the dream was that Americans would be judged not by the color of their skin but by "the content of their character." The American gay community, however, has largely succeeded in defining the issue of gay freedom as one of human rights, analogous to the civil rights struggle to achieve full legal equality for African Americans. Their goal is to establish gay sexual behavior as a basic human right, no different from the right of African Americans to complete acceptance, and indeed approval, within the larger American society.
The difficulty is that while the civil rights struggle challenged only some aspects of religious freedom, the current gay struggle for total sexual equality, with its ...