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World News

'A time of persecution' may be coming, warns Finnish politician over Bible-verse 'hate crime' prosecution

by Premier Journalist

A former Finnish Interior Minister prosecuted for tweeting a Bible verse has been re-elected to Parliament in national elections. But Päivi Räsänen told Premier Christian News "a time of persecution" may be coming after news she faces renewed prosecution in the courts.

Ms Räsänen is a member of the Finnish Christian Democrats, who were elected with five seats, after increasing their vote to four per cent under an electoral system which uses proportional representation.

"I am very happy", she told Premier on the outcome of the elections. "It's possible we will enter negotiations about participating in the new government. I am hopeful," she added.

The Finnish conservative National Coalition Party of Petteri Orpo came first, with 20.8 per cent in a close-run three-way election contest ahead of the Social Democrats, led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin. The right-wing populist Finns Party won a record 20.1 per cent.

Finland's multi-party system requires cooperation and a coalition to form a majority government in the Parliament.

"The result of the Christian Democrats' parliamentary elections is the best since 2007, and the total number of ballots is the fourth-best result in KD's history, with 131,368 votes", commented party chairman Sari Essayah.

According to Ms Räsänen, the last time the Christian Democrats were in government was as part of an alliance led by the National Coalition Party.

Ms Räsänen came to prominence in 2019 when she took to Twitter to express concern that her church was hosting a Pride parade. In her tweet, she referenced the Bible.

For this, she was charged with "hate speech," tried under Finnish criminal law, but unanimously acquitted this time last year.

Speaking to Premier, the 63-year-old said she will be forced back to court this August after the state prosecutor appealed against her acquittal.

"It would have a very big influence for the freedom of speech and freedom of faith in the Finnish society", she said.

"If I would be convicted, then it would be a very difficult time because there are hundreds or thousands of similar statements and writings in Finland that Christians have said or written", she added.

"It would start the time of persecution if I would be convicted, because even the Bible would be banned", Ms Räsänen said.

"The police said when they investigated the case that Bibles should also be banned if my writings would be banned", she continued.

But the Christian Democrat told Premier that the case had opened up opportunities to preach Christ.

"I pray that during the trial process in August and all these media events, I would also have a chance to tell the good news of the gospel, what is the solution to the problem through faith in Jesus".

"And I have been so thankful that it has given during this process, it has given many chances to testify about Jesus to famous people in media and in the police station, and in the courtroom", she concluded.

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