The battle for religious freedom in Finland has been very challenging for former MP Päivi Räsänen. She expressed her Christian faith in a social media post and that has caused a lot of negative reactions from LGBT+ supporters, her Church leaders and other legal practitioners.
It all began when she posted a Bible verse on her social media platform in June 2019. The verse was considered by her church as hate speech against homosexuality.
Päivi posted reminded her church; the Finnish Lutheran church —that sponsoring a local LGBT event isn’t right with the Bible.
This issue has been classified as hate speech. Although Päivi, has come out to clear herself that she had no bad intention of her post but merely expressing her faith and beliefs.
Päivi Räsänen has been going through court trials and the final verdict is yet to be declared in the middle of March. Court preceding is on this issue about a religious post vs the country’s human rights law about sexuality.
She has been charged with hate speech plus other charges connected to a historic pamphlet that criticizes homosexuality.
According to Finnish law, she is liable for a maximum of 6 years in jail. As a Christian woman, she has been courageous enough to defend her faith and beliefs. Sources say she hasn’t removed her social media post. This alone doesn’t auger well for her prosecutors.
Before her trial, she said:
“Now it is time to speak. Because the more we are silent, the narrower the space for freedom of speech and religion grows. I believe all people are equal and precious. I just wanted to share what I believe and what I think is best for all human beings.
“This belief comes from love, not hate. If I’m convicted, I think that the worst consequence would not be the fine against me, or even the prison sentence, it would be the censorship of my statements and writings and many others like them.”
She and her defense team are staying strong in this legal battle. The team also said, looking at the complex situation of Räsänen’s issue, it means it would be impossible to preach Christianity in Finland.
If that becomes the true situation, then it is likely Finland would be on the front line radar of Open Doors —hence being among the worse country’s for Christians to live in.
In the law court, Räsänen’s legal team said the legal system isn’t the body to define what sin is. And also there was no proof that there was any intention to offend any group of people through the social media post or the pamphlet.
The co-writer of the pamphlet Bishop Juhana Pohjola is also facing legal charges. Together, they have been accused of criticizing homosexuality which is ‘hate speech.’
On Monday, the legal counsel of Päivi Räsänen, Lorcan Price said:
“We urge the court to uphold freedom of speech and religion in line with the Finnish constitution and its international commitments. Censorship of specific views has no place in a pluralistic society.”
This court issue about Räsänen’s has gained international interest. And everyone is looking forward to the final verdict in March.
Räsänen and her legal team have gained International support from UK and other places. Religious freedom organization like ADF International has also thrown their support behind them.