An American pastor is facing a federal lawsuit filed by a George Soros-funded organization alleging that the pastor’s messages on homosexuality are a “crime against humanity” – a lawsuit that some Christians fear might have far-reaching consequences for church mission groups.
Scott Lively, a Massachusetts pastor known for his opposition to homosexuality, was sued by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). They claim that he incited the persecution of homosexuals in Uganda.
Lively traveled to Uganda in 2009 where he delivered messages that shared his Biblical views on homosexuality.
The visit coincided with that nation’s legislature considered a bill that would have imposed the death penalty for the “offense of homosexuality.”
“This is absolutely outrageous, “ Liberty Counsel founder Mathew Staver told Fox News. “If this case is not dismissed, we will be having an American pastor that lives in the United States on trial for alleged crimes against humanity. And what are those crimes? He spoke out on homosexuality.
Staver is asking the federal district court to toss out the lawsuit as a “gross attempt to use a vague international law to silence, and eventually criminalize, speech by U.S. citizens on homosexuality and moral issues.”
“This suit should cause everyone to be concerned, because it is a direct threat against freedom of speech,” Staver said.
SMUG is represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, a George Soros-funded organization, Staver said.
“We want him held accountable for the escalating homophobia and persecution in Uganda,” SMUG representative Pepe Julian Onziema said in a CCR news release.
The Ugandan group is able to sue the American pastor under the Alien Tort Statute. It allows certain aliens to sue in the United States for torts committed against them in the United States.
A Springfield, Mass. gay rights group also backed the prosecution of the pastor – some reportedly holding signs that read “Persecution is a crime.”
“We stand today with our allies in Uganda to hold Scott Lively accountable for his persecution of LGBT people around the world,” Cathy Kristofferson said in a CCR press release.
“When SMUG sued Rev. Lively in a Massachusetts federal court, it launched a direct assault on the supremacy of the United States Constitution,” Staver said. “Rev. Lively did not check his First Amendment rights at the airport before departing for Uganda.”
As for the accusation that the pastor committed “crimes against humanity” – Staver said it is “actually nothing more than civil, peaceful, political discourse in the public square on a subject of great public concern.”
Should the federal court rule against the pastor – it could jeopardize any American Christian traveling abroad.
“There is no question that if this case is successful all Christians who travel overseas would be in jeopardy,” Staver told Fox News. “Their speeches, messages and mission work would be placed in jeopardy.”
Staver said the Soros-funded group has one mission.
“They are wanting to silence the speech of Christians – people who are pro-family and people whose views they disagree with,” he said.
Staver also wants the CCR sanctioned for filing what he called a frivolous lawsuit.
“They want to establish new precedent and that precedent would override our Constitutional freedoms,” he said.