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Finnish Parliamentarian on trial for her Christian views

Freedom of Speech
15 February 2022
Paivi reporters

Päivi Räsänen, member of Parliament in Finland appeared in court this week in Helsinki for alleged “hate speech” after she publicly expressed her Christian views.

In 2019, Ms Räsänen sent a tweet to her church minister raising concerns over the church’s support of a Gay Pride parade, using photos of Bible verses to support her thoughts.

This led to police investigations, and in April 2021, three criminal charges were brought against Räsänen, including for comments made in a pamphlet published in 2004, and on a radio show in 2019. Bishop Pohjola, who published the pamphlet for his church, also faces trial alongside Räsänen.

Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International, which is representing Ms Räsänen, commented:

“The majority of the trial so far has been about the role of the Bible in society... I would characterize the day as a modern-day Inquisition or heresy trial.”

Support has been shown for both Räsänen and Pohjola, from the crowds gathering outside the courthouse and from several high-profile members of the US Congress who have released an open letter of encouragement in “the spirit of Christian solidarity.”

In the UK, MPs raised concerns in Parliament over the prosecution highlighting “the potential implications of that case for other countries.”

Mr Coleman added: “This criminal prosecution serves as a canary in the coalmine for countries such as Scotland and others across Europe, which are implementing their own illiberal censorship laws,”

Speaking ahead of the trial, Päivi Räsänen 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.”

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