You wouldn't think you could get sued over a Bible translation, but one Bradley LaShawn Fowler has filed lawsuits against two publishers demanding a total of $70 million in damages. He claims that their versions of the Bible, which condemn homosexuality, violate his rights as a homosexual man. He is representing himself, and his handwritten complaints (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan) are difficult to understand, but that seems to be the gist of it.
His complaints concern I Corinithians 6:9:
η ουκ οιδατε οτι αδικοι βασιλειαν θεου ου κληρονομησουσιν μη πλανασθε ουτε πορνοι ουτε ειδωλολατραι ουτε μοιχοι ουτε μαλακοι ουτε αρσενοκοιται
An nescitis quia iniqui regnum Dei non possidebunt? Nolite errare: neque fornicarii neque idolis servientes neque adulteri neque molles neque masculorum concubitores
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,
What is at issue is the meaning of the words μαλακοι and αρσενοκοιται The usual view is that they refer to men who engage in homosexual acts. μαλακοι are those taken to play the "feminine" role, αρσενοκοιται those taken to play the "masculine" role. That these refer to homosexuals of some sort is clear from the Latin translation, produced in the 5th century, which uses molles "soft ones" for μαλακοι and masculorum concubitores "those who sleep with men" for αρσενοκοιται.
There are two disputes over the translation of these terms. One is valid but not really relevant here. The observation is that the ancient Greeks had no notion of homosexual "identity", so modern terms like "homosexual" and "gay", which describe identities, are not appropriate. This seems to be true, but it means only that the Greek terms must be taken as referring to men who engage in sexual acts with men, not to a male gay sexual orientation or identity. The passage still condemns homosexual activity.
The other dispute is whether these terms refer to all men who engage in gay sex or to narrower categories such as temple prostitutes. There is a literature on this which I won't go into. My own view is that the proponents of the broader view have won the debate.
As I understand Fowler's complaints, he is not arguing that the New Testament, when translated correctly, discriminates against him as a gay man. Rather, he thinks that the publishers were negligent in publishing Bibles containing what in his view is an erroneous translation, one that, he thinks, falsely condemns homsexuality.
From a legal point of view, the interesting thing about this case is that it arguably turns on the secular question of the meaning of a text, not, strictly speaking, on religious doctrine. US Courts decline to rule on matters of religious doctrine on the grounds that this would violate the First Amendment, but insofar as this case requires a decision as to the meaning of a passage in a text, albeit a religious text, and not a decision on Christian doctrine per se, in theory the court might undertake the task.
Unfortunately, for those would find it interesting to see a court analyze the meaning of a Greek text, I suspect that this case won't get that far. The judge has already expressed skepticism, and I have grave doubts as to the ability of the pro se plaintiff to proceed with the case. There are, furthermore, other legal issues, such as whether the publishers are liable for negligence in the absence of the ability of the plaintiff to establish a duty of care.
Incidentally, I looked up the passage in The Unbound Bible, which is very useful if you want to look at the Bible. It will display up to four parallel columns aligned at the verse level, chosen from any of more than two dozen versions of the Bible.
Hat tip to the Religion Clause.