Finland is a very Left-leaning place so intolerance in the name of tolerance is to be expected of them. They see nothing paradoxical in being intolerant of intolerance. They should look in the mirror more. They are in fact more intolerant than those they criticize. They condemn as "hate" simple disagreement with them. So who are the real haters?
An interfaith coalition has offered prayers of solidarity to two evangelical Christians facing their third trial for declaring that homosexuality violates the Bible, a position prosecutors call “war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
Despite two unanimous acquittals, Finland’s state prosecutor has taken an elderly member of Parliament and a Lutheran bishop before the Supreme Court to answer for their traditional Christian beliefs on sexuality.
Dr. Päivi Räsänen, who has served in Parliament for 29 years, and Bishop Juhana Pohjola of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, are facing “spiritual persecution” for upholding the Scripture, said a letter signed by dozens of Christian and Jewish leaders.
“Once again, you face unjust charges. For almost half a decade, you have confronted targeted legal harassment for simply living out your Christian faith, the direct result of not just political persecution but also spiritual persecution,” says the letter, which was led by Advancing American Freedom and released today.
“Now, despite twice being unanimously declared not guilty at the Helsinki District Court and the Helsinki Court of Appeals, the prosecutor has filed another appeal, potentially forcing a third trial at Finland’s Supreme Court.”
Authorities have centered their legal case on a 5-year-old social media post made by the member of Parliament, a member of the Christian Democrats Party, asking why her Lutheran church body would take part in an LGBT “Pride 2019” event. The post on X, formerly Twitter, included a photo of Romans 1:24-27, which clarifies that homosexual behavior is sinful.
Two years later, in April 2021, prosecutors charged Räsänen and Pohjola with “agitation against a minority” under the nation’s law against “war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
Police arrested Räsänen and subjected her to 13 hours of police interrogation before her trial. Prosecutors dubbed the Bible verses in her tweet, a booklet the two wrote in 2004 expounding on biblical doctrine titled “Male and Female He Created Them: Homosexual Relations Challenge the Christian Concept of Humanity,” as well as comments Räsänen made on the radio in December 2019 as “hate speech.”
Räsänen and Pohjola were first acquitted by the Helsinki District Court on March 30, 2022. The three-judge panel ruled that prosecutors had violated the Christians’ right to freedom of expression contained in Section 12 of the Finnish Constitution, as well as noting the thorny legal questions posed if secular judges begin ruling on matters of religious doctrine.
“It is not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts,” the court declared.
But within days, then-Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen appealed the charges. Räsänen then faced a two-day trial last Aug. 31-Sept. 1. The Court of Appeals unanimously acquitted Räsänen and Pohjola on Nov. 14. Under the law, social media posts must be intended to offend, and “there must be an overriding social reason for interfering with and restricting freedom of expression,” it ruled. The judges ordered the state to pay both defendants’ legal fees.
Finland’s current state prosecutor appealed the dismissal once again earlier this month.
“It is shocking that the Finnish state prosecutor has decided to target MP Räsänen for a third time, because she politely expressed her religious beliefs in public,” Arielle Del Turco, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council—and who signed the letter—told The Washington Stand. “So far, the Finnish courts have been clear in affirming Räsänen’s right to express her religious beliefs. However, the process of being dragged through court is often the punishment itself.”
The effort to continually prosecute the grandmother of 10 exposes the government’s intolerance and malice toward traditional Christian viewpoints, said Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International, which is supporting Räsänen’s legal defense. “Dragging people through the courts for years, subjecting them to hourlong police interrogations, and wasting taxpayer money to police people’s deeply held beliefs has no place in a democratic society,” said Coleman. “As is so often the case in ‘hate speech’ trials, the process has become the punishment.”
The U.S. letter offers “prayers and encouragement” to the embattled pair “on behalf of the millions of Americans who support freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”
The letter assures them that “you do not stand alone,” because “each one of us stands alongside you,” note its writers. “We are watching, and we are praying for you. The world is watching, and the world is praying for you.”
The signatories hope their fellow believers, and all those who value freedom of conscience and expression, will make that promise real as the West falls progressively under the sway of illiberal secular repression.
“Christians around the world should continue to pray for and voice their support for MP Räsänen,” said Del Turco.