CARE: Christian Action, Research and Education

For what you believe
Open menu Close menu

Christian Finnish MP wins free speech victory

Freedom of Speech
31 March 2022
Paivi reporters
Although I am grateful for having had this chance to stand up for freedom of speech, I hope that this ruling will help prevent others from having to go through the same ordeal.”
Päivi Räsänen

A Finnish MP who was charged under hate crime laws for quoting bible verses and expressing orthodox, Christian teaching on social media has been cleared of all charges.

Päivi Räsänen, the Former Minister of the Interior had shared her views on marriage and sexuality in a 2019 tweet, a 2019 radio debate and a 2004 pamphlet.

In a case that’s garnered international attention, she and Bishop Juhana Pohjola, who published Räsänen’s pamphlet to his congregation, were accused of hate speech.

In its unanimous ruling, the court concluded that “it is not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts.”

The prosecution were ordered to pay more than 60,000 euros in legal costs and has seven days to appeal the ruling.

Speaking after the victory, Päivi Räsänen said:

“I am so grateful the court recognized the threat to free speech and ruled in our favour. I feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulders after being acquitted.
Päivi Räsänen Finnish MP

She was supported by legal advocacy group ADF International. Executive Director Paul Coleman said this after the verdict:

“We welcome the Helsinki District Court’s ruling. This is an important decision, which upholds the fundamental right to freedom of speech in Finland. In a free society, everyone should be allowed to share their beliefs without fear of censorship. This is the foundation of every free and democratic society. Criminalizing speech through so-called ‘hate-speech’ laws shuts down important public debates and poses a grave threat to our democracies.”
Paul Coleman Executive Director, ADF International

Reflecting on the verdict, CARE's James Mildred said the case highlighted the danger posed by hate speech laws.

The great problem with hate speech laws is that they can become blunt tools, used to shut down perfectly legitimate expressions of faith and belief.
Yes, the Christian message is deeply offensive to some. But in a free society, the freedom to offend must remain.
We give God thanks for this outcome, which is good news for everyone who engages in the public square.
But the simple fact this case got as far as it did is a chilling reminder of the state of freedom across Europe and how Christian teachings, held by the church for millennia, can put you in the dock."
James Mildred Director of Communications and Engagement

Receive news from CARE each week

By signing up stay in touch you agree to receive emails from CARE. You can change your mailing preferences at any time either by getting in touch with CARE, or through the links on any of our emails.

Recent news in Freedom of Speech

Microsoft Teams image 18

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech and expression are vital, democratic liberties. As Christians, we should uphold them for the benefit of all people.

Find out more about the cause