A gay man has filed suit against two Christian publishers over claims they altered passages in the Bible to depict homosexuality as sinful.
Author Bradley Fowler is seeking $60 million (£30m) in damages from Zondervan Corp. and $10 million from Thomas Nelson Publishing, charging that the publishers are guilty of malice, negligence and violation of his civil rights.
Fowler filed suit in the Eastern District Federal Court of Ann Arbor, Michigan on July 7, claiming Zondervan Corp. misled consumers and Christian Bible readers into believing “homosexuals would not inherit the kingdom of God,” according to a press statement released by Fowler on Wednesday.
He filed an earlier suit against publisher Thomas Nelson and its New King James Bible in June over similar accusations of language alteration in the text.
While conducting research for a book he was writing, Fowler says he “grew concerned about the variation of scriptures from one Bible to the next.”
According to Fowler, he was “flabbergasted to find out this Christian publisher had imposed its own opinions upon religious sectors, by fraudulently implementing the terminology -homosexual- to its Bible; them removed the term from its 1994 Holy Bible—without informing the general public.”
One of the text alterations Fowler attributes to Thomas Nelson Publishing comes from Corinthians 6:9. In the text from a 1976 Bible version by Thomas Nelson, Fowler claims the passage reads:
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.”
In the text from a 1982 version by Thomas Nelson, Fowler claims the passage has been changed to:
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodimites.”
Finally, in a 2001 version, Fowler claims the passage was changed yet again to read:
“Surely you know that the people who do wrong will not inherit God’s kingdom. Do not be fooled, those who sin sexually, worship idols, take part in adultery, those who are male prostitutes, or men who have sexual relations with other men, those who steal, are greedy, get drunk, lie about others, or rob these people will not inherit God’s kingdom.”
In a statement released to the press, Fowler says that imposing terminology that “conveys a message of hate and discrimination towards a particular sector or group of individuals, solely based on bias opinions” has caused countless homosexuals to be “assaulted, discriminated against, and or, even murdered.”
Fowler claims that Christian’s historically believe biblical scriptures are the “authentic word of God” and that the alterations of passages by Bible publishers to depict homosexuality as a sin is a willful manipulation of society into “mistreating homosexuals.”
In a press statement reported by NewsMax.com, Zondervan Corp. wrote that the company relies “on the scholarly judgment of the highly respected and credible translation committees behind each translation and never alter the text of the translations we are licensed to publish… We only publish credible translations produced by credible Biblical scholars.”
Company spokesperson Tara Powers told The Christian Post: “Since Zondervan does not translate the Bible or own the copyright for any of the translations we publish, we are not in a position to comment on the merits of how a word should or should not be translated.”
The U.S. District Judge presiding over Fowler’s case against Thomas Nelson Publishing, Julian Abele Cook Jr, has stated the court “has some very genuine concerns about the nature and efficacy of [Fowler’s] claims.”
The court has refused to appoint a lawyer for his suit against Thomas Nelson, according to The Grand Rapids Press.
The author, who is currently working on publishing his first book, is representing himself in both lawsuits.
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