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'I Will Not Renounce My Beliefs': Hate Speech Charges Dropped for Now Against Finnish Lawmaker Who Quoted the Bible

03-30-2022
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A court in Finland today dismissed all charges of hate speech against a Christian member of Parliament and a Finnish pastor, after they shared what the Bible teaches about homosexuality. But it seems her case may not be over yet. 

On trial were Finnish lawmaker and former interior minister Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission. 

Also on trial was the Bible itself, and whether quoting the Bible can be considered a hate crime. 

Finland's own constitution instructs the church to proclaim the truths of the Bible. But when Päivi Räsänen challenged the church to do just that, she was charged with a crime.

Prosecutors accused Räsänen of committing hate speech on three occasions:  in a pamphlet about biblical marriage published almost 20 years ago, in a broadcast interview, and in a 2019 tweet in which she questioned why the State Lutheran Church was officially supporting Finland's Gay Pride week. 

"In my tweet, I directly cited Romans first chapter and verses 24 to 27 and posted the picture of the passages from the Bible," Räsänen told CBN News in a 2019 interview. 

It's a passage that condemns homosexuality as a sin. It's biblical teaching that the Finnish constitution says it supports. 

CBN News asked Räsänen if she was surprised to be charged in the first place.  She said, "Yes. It was a surprise for me that there is even a police investigation about that case. I wouldn't have believed it." 

The Lutheran pastor who published the pamphlet Räsänen wrote on Christian marriage was also found not guilty.

Räsänen told CBN News before the verdict that if she was found guilty, she would appeal.

"I'm going to fight so far as it is possible, and I will not recant what I have said, will not renounce my beliefs and my faith, and I will encourage all Christians to be open about their faith and open about the Bible."

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Räsänen also says she does not regret what she did or the ordeal that she has had to go through, saying she has received letters from homosexuals who said they accepted Christ after reading about her story.  

"This process has been long, it has lasted for three years, and it has not only consumed time and resources on my part, but also of the police and the court. On the other hand, I have felt joy about being able to speak about the Gospel and the atonement of Jesus during these couple of years," she said in a statement after the ruling.

Her trial also helped awaken many Christians in Finland, who rallied to her defense.

She added, "I have a very, very strong feeling that this has been my calling. So in, in some way, this has been hard time, but in some way I have felt that this has been a privilege."

Unfortunately for Räsänen, the case doesn't appear to be over, even after an overwhelming unanimous ruling in her favor.

"I had hoped that the prosecutor would have settled for this ruling, but today afternoon I heard that the prosecutors will very likely appeal to the Court of Appeal. I am ready to defend freedom of speech and religion in all necessary courts, also in the European Court of Human Rights. I want to encourage others to use these basic rights also," she said.

 

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