Päivi Räsänen, the Finnish MP who stood trial for tweeting a Bible verse describing homosexuality as shameful, has said her victory is one for Bible believing Christians but also for freedom of speech.
Speaking at a press conference, Ms Räsänen said she will continue to “stand up for her beliefs” and wants to urge other Christians to continue to do so.
“This three year process with all the investigations and court sessions has, in practice, narrowed freedom of religion and free speech by creating self-censorship. People are afraid of the possible consequences when expressing their faith and conviction in public,” she said.
“I want to encourage Christians to express their faith and their beliefs and to be open about their faith because the more we are, quite the narrower the space will be for these freedoms.”
On Wednesday, a Finnish court unanimously decided to dismiss all charges against her arguing that "it is not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts".
Räsänen was cleared of three hate speech charges for a tweet in 2019 which criticised the Lutheran Church of Finland for taking part in a gay pride event, accompanied by a picture of Romans 1: 24-27.
She was also charged for expressing Christian traditional views on sex and marriage in a pamphlet published in 2004 and a TV debate in 2018.
Bishop Juhana Pohjola, the Bishop-Elect of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, also faced prosecution for publishing the booklet.
Räsänen added: “I have been interrogated by the police several times all together for over 13 hours. Many questions, they asked me there about the Bible, and its interpretation. I was asked what I understand the message of the book of Romans and its first chapter to be - what do I mean by the word sin?
“The police also asked if I agreed to delete my writings within two weeks, and I answered no and that I stand behind these teachings of the Bible, whatever the consequences, I will not regard what I have set and not renounce my faith based on the Bible,” she continued.
But although the process has consumed “time and resources”, Räsänen said she has held “great joy” for being able to speak about “the gospel and the atonement of Jesus” during last few years.
When asked if she would continue the legal battle if the prosecution were to appeal the decision, she said: “I'm ready to defend freedom of speech and religion in all necessary courts also in European Court of Human Rights if needed.”