Politician Who Could Face Jail Time After Sharing Bible Verse Warns of Case's 'Chilling Effect'
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A Finnish politician on trial for sharing her biblical views on sexuality will return to court later this month as her four-year legal battle stretches on.
Where the situation currently stands
Dr. Päivi Räsänen, the embattled member of Finland’s parliament, told CBN’s Faithwire a court date in a prosecutor’s appeal after she was cleared of hate speech charges last year is scheduled for Aug. 31.
She said she’s prepared to defend herself in any necessary courts of law.
“It was four years ago in June 2019 when I posted a Twitter post and also to Facebook, and it was about the Pride event that was going on, and the main church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, decided to support it officially,” Räsänen said. “And it was a shock to me, and as a member of that church … I asked the leadership of my church … ‘How is it possible that you are supporting something, as a matter of pride, what the Bible calls shame and sin?'”
Her simple social media post, which included Scripture from the Book of Romans, soon landed her in legal hot water, as a citizen made a criminal complaint. Other past comments from Räsänen soon also came under scrutiny.
Another complaint was reportedly filed over a radio program she was on and over an old pamphlet she wrote about same-sex relationships. Police interrogated Räsänen over her views, which, in America, would fall well within the confines of orthodox Christianity and as protected speech under the First Amendment.
Unfortunately, Finnish prosecutors decided to up the ante and file charges. Watch her explain the shocking legal battle:
“Then the prosecutor decided to file up the charges,” Räsänen said. “I was first interrogated by the police altogether 13 hours. And I have to say that the situation was really absurd, because just some years ago, I was a minister of interior in charge of police.”
Räsänen was accused of “inciting against sexual minorities,” which could carry two years in jail or a fine.
Despite her role in parliament and as a previous minister of the interior, Räsänen said she suddenly found herself sitting at a table being questioned about her biblical views and the meaning of the book of Romans. Remarkably, she headed to court last year and was acquitted on all three charges against her — a unanimous decision by the three presiding judges.
“In Finland, we have the system that the prosecutor is able to appeal to higher level of justice,” she explained. “And now the prosecutor has appealed, and I’m waiting for the trial in appeals court.”
Still, Finland has freedom of speech and freedom of religion embedded in its constitution, which is why Räsänen believes she won her first court battle. Despite her persistent fight, she believes she will have a “good result.”
But that doesn’t mean the journey has been easy.
“This process in itself, it is like a punishment, because it has a chilling effect for … Bible-believing Christians,” Räsänen said. “I think that the prosecutor is using me like a warning sign to other people that they wouldn’t use their constitutional rights to speak and express their faith and beliefs. And that’s why this is so dangerous.”
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The politician said she has received international support in her case and is unwavering in fighting for freedom in Finland and beyond. She said any conviction or ruling against her would reverberate throughout the rest of Europe — something that deeply concerns her.
“If I would be convicted, it would have consequences around to Europe, because the LGBT advocates, they are so active and aggressive,” she said. “And they have very strong networks … so it would have effects to other European countries.”
The end result, she said, would be increased Christian persecution, with the Bible and its truths very literally being put on trial. With the stakes high, Räsänen delivered a message to fellow Christians about the importance of boldness amid difficult times.
“Now it is time to use these rights to speak and to express your beliefs,” she said, warning of what could befall traditional Christians who hold to biblical doctrine. “What I have spoken or what I have written, it has been about similar things that Christians have spoken and have been teaching for decades, for 2,000 years.”
As CBN’s Faithwire has extensively reported, Räsänen’s criminal trial, which began Jan. 24, 2022, and ended Feb. 14, came after she was charged with violating the dignity and equality of the LGBTQ population by engaging in purported hate speech.
Räsänen told Faithwire last year that her plight began June 17, 2019, when she tweeted the text of Romans 1:24-27, which condemns homosexuality as sinful. As Räsänen reiterated in her more recent interview, she was alarmed over a decision by her denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, to support an LGBTQ Pride event, so she responded by sharing Scripture on her Twitter account.
“This was quite shocking to me, and I was thinking, ‘What should I do now?’” she said of the church’s support for the event. “In fact, I was praying, ‘Is it now my time to resign the church as some of my friends have done?’”
But Räsänen said she got a “very clear vision” that it wasn’t time to leave the denomination and that she was being called to “try to speak loud and try to wake up those who are sleeping.”
So, Räsänen shared her biblical citation and critique — and debate immediately followed. Soon, LGBTQ advocates spoke out, and before long, she said the police began investigating her comments.
Other statements about biblical marriage were soon at the forefront of the discontentedness, including a 2004 pamphlet she wrote, “Male and Female He Created Them: Homosexual Relationships Challenge the Christian Concept of Humanity.”
Finland’s Office of the Prosecutor General argued Räsänen’s comments and statements weren’t merely unpalatable but were likely to spark hatred and intolerance.
The prosecutor contended these statements “transcend freedom of speech and religion” because they targeted the “equality and dignity of homosexuals.”
The politician still faces fines and up to two years in prison if convicted, and her pamphlet could have been banned — something she argued would, as she noted, have a chilling effect on biblical writings, statements, and sermons.
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