In a huge victory for pro-life Christians and free speech, a court has ruled that Päivi Räsänen, a member of the parliament in Finland, is not guilty of hate speech for quoting the Bible to defend her views.
Räsänen could have been sent to prison for six years for expressing her Christian beliefs publicly after she was accused of using “hate speech.” She is widely known for defending conservative Christian views and speaking out against abortion and euthanasia.
Räsänen was facing three criminal charges for alleged “hate speech” for comments that she made during news interviews and online.
ADF International, which represents her, said authorities accused her of “hate speech” for publicly voicing her opinion on marriage and human sexuality in a 2004 pamphlet, her comments on a 2018 TV show and a 2019 tweet criticizing her church leaders’ decision to support a “Pride” celebration. She is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.
“Despite the police previously concluding that no crime had been committed, the Prosecutor General re-opened the file,” ADF International responded.
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Her lawyers said she attended several lengthy interviews with police about her views in 2019, and then waited more than a year before the General Prosecutor decided to continue prosecution.
On March 5, 2020, she learned that the Prosecutor General had launched two more investigations against her, her lawyers said. One is about her comments discussing her faith and religious issues on a TV show in 2018 called, “Yökylässä Maria Veitola.” The other involves a December 2019 radio interview that she participated in; the topic was “What would Jesus think about homosexuals?”
But today, news reports indicate the lower court unanimously ruled in her favor:
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.
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.”
Prosecutors plan to appeal the decision.
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.
The pro-life lawmaker said she will not back down or be intimidated, and she hopes her legal battle will help ensure that no one is deprived of their freedom of speech.
“I cannot accept that voicing my religious beliefs could mean imprisonment,” she said in a statement. “I do not consider myself guilty of threatening, slandering or insulting anyone. My statements were all based on the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexuality.”
In the United States, pro-life Congressman Chip Roy applauded today’s verdict.
“Today, I join with thousands of Americans and people around the world united in our joy and thankfulness that Finnish M.P. Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola were justly and unanimously found ‘not guilty.’ This decision is a victory for the God-given rights of free speech and religious expression both in Finland and across the globe,” Rep Roy said.
“But, the fact that there was even a prosecution is unacceptable and a reminder that we must remain vigilant in defense of our faith, our values, and the very unalienable rights that form the foundation of Western Civilization. God bless M.P. Räsänen, Bishop Pohjola, the lawyers at Alliance Defending Freedom International, and other organizations such as Family Research Council who took up their cause. Onward.”
Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International, said cases like Räsänen’s are becoming all too common throughout Europe.
“If committed civil servants like Päivi Räsänen are criminally charged for voicing their deeply held beliefs, it creates a chilling effect for everyone’s right to speak freely,” Coleman said.
Räsänen said she will not remain silent or allow the government to censor her.
“I will not be intimidated into hiding my faith,” she said. “The more Christians keep silent on controversial themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech gets.”