A breathtaking assault on religious freedom is currently playing out in a Finnish courtroom. Member of Parliament Päivi Räsänen is facing three criminal charges of ethnic agitation which could land her behind bars for two years for publicly expressing her strong Christian faith.
The first charge stems from a religious pamphlet Räsänen wrote in 2004 and published on Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola’s church website, according to Fox News. Pohjola, who is also a member of the Finnish Parliament, has been charged with one count of ethic agitation for allowing the pamphlet to appear on his site.
The other two charges include comments she’d made during an appearance on a 2019 radio show and for posting a photo of a Bible verse on social media, the report said.
In 2019, Räsänen’s church sponsored an LGBTQ Pride event. She voiced her concern about this in a Twitter post, adding a link to an Instagram post, which included a passage from the Bible, Romans 1:24-27.
This passage reads as follows in the New International Version of the Bible (via Bible Gateway):
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Kirkko, jonka jäsen olen, on ilmoittanut olevansa SETA:n Helsinki Pride 2019 virallinen kumppani. Miten kirkon oppiperusta, Raamattu, sopii yhteen aatteen kanssa, jossa häpeä ja synti nostetaan ylpeyden aiheeksi?… https://t.co/dSGNJqdf9F
— Päivi Räsänen (@PaiviRasanen) June 17, 2019
The English version (via Google translation): “The church of which I am a member has announced that it is an official partner of SETA Helsinki Pride 2019. How does the doctrine of the Church, the Bible, fit in with the idea that shame and sin are raised to the point of pride?”
Räsänen discussed her case with Fox News. She said, “I’m very optimistic to win the case, but I have to say I’ve been very optimistic all the time. I would never have believed that this happens in Finland because we are a democracy with freedom of speech and freedom of religion in our Constitution.”
She told Fox that in announcing the charges, Finland’s state prosecutor claimed her comments were intended to stir intolerance, contempt and hatred toward homosexuals.
At one point in the video, she references statements made by an official, likely Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen (the title is muffled in the audio). She tells Fox this individual said publicly, “If Päivi Räsänen is convicted, it is still allowed to have Bibles in the libraries and to have debates and discussions about the Bible and even to cite the Bible. What is forbidden is to agree with the Bible.”
“At the same time, she compared the Bible to [Adolf Hitler’s book] Mein Kampf,” Räsänen noted. The prosecutor allegedly said that both include “hate speech.”
“You are allowed in your mind to agree with the Bible,” she added. “But you can’t state it publicly.”
Räsänen told Fox that prosecutors have alleged in court that she “had said homosexual people are inferior to other people, or that God has not even created homosexual people.”
“I have never said something like that,” she said. “My conviction is that all people are equal. God has created all people, and homosexual people are as precious, as valuable as everyone else.”
Fox reported that “Finnish prosecutors stated that the Bible should not overrule Finnish law, and that the use of the word ‘sin’ could be harmful.”
Räsänen encouraged Christians to “use their freedoms, to use their right and freedom to speech and religion, because the more we are silent about these issues, the narrower will be the space for the freedom of speech and religion.”
“Now is the time for Christians to be open about their faith, and tell openly about the message of the Bible, and especially about the message of the gospel,” she added.
Politicians in the U.S. are watching Räsänen’s case with increasing alarm.
GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida sent a letter, which was signed by four other senators, to the U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain, requesting that he “condemn [the] unjust prosecutions, and continue to monitor other developments that threaten religious freedom in Finland and Europe.”
“We are greatly concerned that the use of Finnish hate speech law is tantamount to a secular blasphemy law,” the letter states. “It could open the door for prosecution of other devout Christians, Muslims, Jews and adherents of other faiths for publicly stating their religious beliefs that may conflict with secular trends.”
Texas Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican, along with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, penned an op-ed about Räsänen’s case which was published by Fox News on Wednesday.
Roy and Perkins wrote: “The absurd, anti-Christian hostility inherent in this case cannot be overstated.”
They emphasize that “Finland is a European liberal democracy that ostensibly promises its citizens basic human rights such as freedom of speech, religion, assembly, equality under the law, property rights, among others. However, the Finnish government seems to have forgotten these core values, acting more like a woke theocracy as it attempts to punish citizens who dare contradict the secular dogmas of the day.”
Alarmed by the brewing war on religious freedom, they warn: “The trial of two Christians in Finland has implications for a growing war on faith in America.”
It’s insane what is being considered punishable “hate speech” in Europe. It is surreal that the Finnish government would persecute Christians for expressing their faith.
Although it doesn’t matter if one agrees with the Finnish MP or not, she does have a point. Why must we celebrate LGBTQ pride? No one ever celebrated heterosexual pride. It’s become a farce.
Would the Finns persecute Muslims for practicing their religion? Strict practitioners of Islam believe homosexuals should be put to death.
The Finnish prosecutor general would likely roll out the red carpet for Muslims, as “woke” leaders in the U.S. do.
Governments’ and courts’ desire to push this woke rubbish is trampling all over their citizens’ basic right to practice their religions and to express their thoughts.
If the left continues pushing an unchecked progressive agenda, the surrender of our God-given rights to avoid offense could become the norm.
What’s happening in Europe now provides us a glimpse of where the U.S. could be in 15 years — or less.
We would be wise to pay attention.