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ADF International
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ADF International
World News

Christian politician to stand trial for third time over Bible tweet

by Donna Birrell

Finnish politician Päivi Räsänen is to stand trial for a third time for tweeting a Bible verse reflecting her views on marriage and sexual ethics.

The Christian grandmother had previously been acquitted unanimously of “hate speech” charges before both the Helsinki District Court, and the Court of Appeal. However Finland’s state prosecutor appealed the case at the country’s Supreme Court.

Räsänen, who previously served as Finland’s Minister of the Interior, stands criminally charged for sharing her faith-based views on marriage and sexual ethics in a 2019 tweet, and in a 2004 pamphlet which she wrote for her church, centred on the Biblical text, “male and female he created them”.

The prosecutor has not appealed a third charge based on her appearance on a radio show, making her Court of Appeal acquittal on that charge final. Only the two remaining charges are subject to this latest appeal.

Commenting on the Supreme Court’s decision, Räsänen said she had a “peaceful mind” and is “ready to continue to defend free speech and freedom of religion before the Supreme Court, and if need be, also before the European Court of Human Rights...

“In my case the investigation has lasted almost five years, has involved untrue accusations, several long police interrogations totalling more than 13 hours, preparations for court hearings, the District Court hearing, and a hearing in the Court of Appeal. This was not just about my opinions, but about everyone’s freedom of expression. I hope that with the ruling of the Supreme Court, others would not have to undergo the same ordeal. I have considered it a privilege and an honour to defend freedom of expression, which is a fundamental right in a democratic state.”

Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International, supporting Räsänen’s legal defence said:

“This is a watershed case in the story of Europe’s creeping censorship. In a democratic Western nation in 2024, nobody should be on trial for their faith – yet throughout the prosecution of  Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola [who faces charges for publishing Räsänen’s pamphlet in 2004], we have seen something akin to a ‘heresy’ trial, where Christians are dragged through court for holding beliefs that differ from the approved orthodoxy of the day.

“The state’s insistence on continuing this prosecution after almost five long years, despite such clear and unanimous rulings from the lower courts is alarming. The process is the punishment in such instances, resulting in a chill on free speech for all citizens observing. ADF International will continue to stand alongside Räsänen and Pohjola every step of the way as they face their next day in court. Their right to speak freely is everyone’s right to speak freely.”

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