Supreme Court of Finland to hear ‘hate speech’ charges against Christian MP over Bible tweet

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Päivi Räsänen(Photo: ADF International)

(CP) The Supreme Court of Finland confirmed Friday that Finnish parliamentarian Päivi Räsänen will face trial a third time over her five-year-old Bible verse tweet that criticized the Finnish Lutheran Church for promoting LGBT “pride month.”

Räsänen, who led Finland’s Christian Democratic Party from 2004 to 2015 and served as the country’s interior minister from 2011 to 2015, is being dragged into court again despite having been acquitted twice by lower courts on hate crime charges, according to a statement from lawyers at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International.

Police began investigating the grandmother of 11 shortly after her 2019 tweet in which she posted a photo from the book of Romans and questioned how the Finnish Lutheran Church could agree with “shame and sin” being presented as “a matter of pride.”

Investigators also dredged up a pamphlet she published in 2004 with Bishop Juhana Pohjola of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, titled “Male and Female He Created Them: Homosexual relationships challenge the Christian concept of humanity.”

In April 2021, after subjecting her to 13 hours of interrogation over several months, Finland’s prosecutor general used Räsänen’s tweet, pamphlet and a radio interview to charge her with three counts of “agitation against a minority group,” which falls under the umbrella of the “war crimes and crimes against humanity” section in Finnish law.

Pohjola was also charged for having published Räsänen’s pamphlet two decades ago.

The Helsinki Court of Appeal unanimously acquitted Räsänen and Pohjola in November, which followed a similar acquittal by the three-judge District Court of Helsinki in March 2022.

The state prosecutor is appealing their acquittal a third time on two of the charges, demanding that the two face tens of thousands of euros in fines and that their work be censored. Räsänen’s next court date has not yet been determined.

The situation has drawn international media attention and prompted outrage from human rights experts.

“In my case the investigation has lasted almost five years, has involved untrue accusations, several long police interrogations totaling more than 13 hours, preparations for court hearings, the District Court hearing, and a hearing in the Court of Appeal,” Räsänen said in a statement.

“This was not just about my opinions, but about everyone’s freedom of expression. I hope that with the ruling of the Supreme Court, others would not have to undergo the same ordeal. I have considered it a privilege and an honor to defend freedom of expression, which is a fundamental right in a democratic state,” she added.

Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International, likened Räsänen’s case to something from the Middle Ages and warned of “creeping censorship” afflicting the historically free nations of Europe.

“In a democratic Western nation in 2024, nobody should be on trial for their faith — yet throughout the prosecution of Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola, we have seen something akin to a ‘heresy’ trial, where Christians are dragged through court for holding beliefs that differ from the approved orthodoxy of the day,” Coleman said.

The state’s persistence in going after Räsänen and Pohjola for nearly half a decade despite multiple acquittals is “alarming,” Coleman said, fearing “the process is the punishment in such instances, resulting in a chill on free speech for all citizens observing.”

“Their right to speak freely is everyone’s right to speak freely,” he added.

European governments have increasingly clamped down on speech critical of homosexuality in recent years.

Earlier this month, France’s gender equality minister Aurore Bergé called for the prosecution of Father Matthieu Raffray, a Roman Catholic priest who drew the ire of the state for describing homosexual inclinations as “a weakness” that must be fought like any other sin.

In Malta, Matthew Grech faced criminal charges under the country’s conversion therapy ban last year for giving his Christian testimony about leaving a homosexual lifestyle on a radio show. The radio hosts who gave him a platform were also charged.

Speaking about proposed anti-hate speech legislation in Ireland that would apply to sexual orientation, ADF CEO Kristen Waggoner told The Christian Post in December that her organization perceives “a global trend toward censorship.”

“And it’s not just a disregard for free speech; it’s an active targeting to silence speech by the government,” she said, adding that the United States is not immune to such trends despite the U.S. Constitution.

© The Christian Post

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