Three evangelical leaders in Greece have been sentenced to three-and-one-half years in prison for proselytism. The sentence was handed down less than two weeks after a Greek court upheld the conviction of an evangelical lay pastor named in a separate lawsuit (CT, Jan. 18, 1985, p. 50).
The defendants in both cases are free pending an appeal of their convictions. In the more recent trial, Costas Macris, director of the Hellenic Missionary Union (HMU); Don Stephens, director of Youth With a Mission (YWAM); and Allan Williams, captain of a ship owned by YWAM, were fined $900 each in addition to their jail terms.
The suit against them was filed by the mother of Kostas Kotopoulos, a young man who came into contact with YWAM and HMU when he was 16. Kotopoulos spent time practicing English with YWAM staff members. He also had contact with staff members from HMU. When the youth later began attending a Pentecostal church, his mother accused the evangelical leaders of brainwashing and bribing her son to induce him to change his religion. A three-judge panel found the men guilty on December 22.
Earlier in December, a circuit court upheld a four-month jail sentence against Eleftherios Salonikas, an evangelical lay pastor. The court also fined his congregation 200,000 drachmas, plus court costs of about 70,000 drachmas, a total penalty of about $1,728 U.S.
Salonikas had appealed an earlier ruling against his congregation for registering and meeting as an association. The HMU’s Macris said the circuit court ruling did not deal with the validity of a church registering as an association. Instead, he said, the judges found the church guilty of proselytizing. Salonikas and his church plan to appeal the circuit court decision to the Greek supreme ...1
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