An Orthodox American rabbi spoke out against using the Bible to justify prejudice in a sermon yesterday.

Steven Greenberg, America’s first openly gay rabbi, shared his belief that the Bible is open to interpretation and should not be used to condemn homosexuality.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, Mr Greenberg said: “No one can say, ‘It says in the Scripture,’ to ground any policy.

“All we can say is, ‘My community says this.'”

Mr Greenberg is the author of a book, Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition, which challenges religious principles that forbid same-sex relationships.

He admits that most difficult to overcome is Leviticus 18:22 which states: “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is detestable.”

But according to Mr Greenberg, this passage refers to violent acts of humiliation rather than our present day understanding of what it means to lie with a man.

The talk was given as part of a lecture series at St Stephen’s Episcopal Church on the campus of Ohio State University.

Reverend George Glazier, pastor of St Stephen’s, praised Greenberg’s sermon.

Denise Williams, a member of the church said that she was surprised to hear Mr Greenberg say that the Bible is not “truth with a capital T”.

“But,” she continued, “after he went on and described what he meant, I understood.

“It was given to us to decipher.”

Mr Greenberg who was raised in Columbus, Ohio, was the first person to declare his homosexuality while claiming adherence to Orthodox Judaism.

Given Judaism’s views on homosexuality, which sees same-sex relationships as an abomination, this has made Mr Greenberg a symbol for the growing Jewish gay movement.