A Christian MP in the new Finnish government has been given a fresh court summons over her trial for tweeting a Bible verse.
Dr. Päivi Räsänen is a former Interior Minister and Christian Democrat. She must attend the Court of Appeal on 22nd August, with Bishop Juhana Pohjola (who is being prosecuted for publishing her pamphlet) appearing two days later.
“I have been subjected to a legal process that has already lasted for more than four years for the alleged ‘crime’ of sharing my Christian beliefs in public”, she commented.
“This is a modern-day inquisition and a theological examination of my beliefs, which does not belong in a courtroom”, she said. “The prosecutors’ 26-pages long appeal openly attacks the core doctrines of Christianity, regarding them as 'defamatory',” she added.
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. But the state prosecutor appealed against the verdict.
“I am accused of ‘agitation against a minority’," Räsänen continued.
“I have been interrogated on several occasions, totalling over 13 hours, in a police station, I have been cross-examined and put on trial for two days at the District Court all because I exercised my right to free speech”, she says.
This case has been named “the Bible trial” as the prosecutor focused on evaluating the acceptability of the Bible’s teachings in modern Finland.
The Helsinki District Court unanimously acquitted Räsänen of all charges last year, finding that the prosecutor had not proven the alleged statements nor engaged in ‘hate speech’ by sharing Christian beliefs.
“The contents of my writings and speeches represent the classical Christian conception of marriage and sexuality, which is the same that Christian churches have taught for two thousand years”, she explained.
“I entirely reject the allegation that I have defamed, threatened, or insulted anyone, and language of that sort has not been included in my statements,” she says.
“Sexual relations outside marriage are against God’s will, as are same-sex relationships," Räsänen says. “I will not back off from this viewpoint.
“At the same time, I have emphasised that every one of us is sinful in front of God. The solution to sin is not denying its reality but accepting God’s grace through Jesus’ redemptive sacrifice.”
Räsänen says she is prepared to defend freedom of expression and faith, if required, and will take her case before the Supreme Court of Finland and, thereafter the European Court of Human Rights.