The Bible, Free Speech on Trial Again in Finland

Sharing the wrong Bible verse could get you two years jail time in Finland.

She was accused of a hate crime for posting a Scripture along with her views on marriage and sexuality. After a three year battle, a court in Finland upheld the right to free speech in March and dropped all charges. But now, Päivi Räsänen, former Minister of the Interior is on trial again.

The reason she spoke up in the first place might surprise you. Her own church jumped on the Pride bandwagon at the time, and she was concerned because they were going against the Bible they profess to believe in.

This has also been a problem in too many American churches. Conforming to the world comes to mind.

In Finland, however, it’s a real possibility a person could go to jail for a perceived insult or offense. According to the criminal code there, if a person is found to have expressed an “opinion” or other message deemed to have “threatened, defamed, or insulted” someone, the alleged offender could face imprisonment for up to two years. 

A a Finnish court concluded in a unanimous ruling earlier this year that “it is not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts.” But due to the prosecutor’s appeal in the case, Dr. Päivi Räsänen, a member of Finland’s parliament will return to court August 31. 

It has been a four-year battle for her. This is what the God-hating left does here in the U.S. as well. They drag you into court and try wearing you down. (See Jack Phillips, Colorado baker) The word “bullying” comes to mind.

She believes they are trying to make an example out of her, but said she’s prepared to defend herself in any necessary courts of law. Räsänen said she has been encouraged by the international support she’s received, but is concerned that any ruling against her would reverberate throughout the rest of Europe. She adds:

“If I would be convicted, it would have consequences around to Europe, because the LGBT advocates, they are so active and aggressive,” she said. “And they have very strong networks … so it would have effects to other European countries.”

It’s interesting to me all around the world the LGBTQ lobby is so powerful, influential, and intimidating. As she said, they are “active and aggressive.” What would happen if Bible-believing Christians were just as loud, demanding, and forceful? I think we know the answer to that.

I also agree with her point that should she be found guilty it would result in the open, legal persecution of Christians.

Here we go again. The truth of the Bible is literally on trial.

There’s more to the story, however. In 2019, she simply posted on social media about a Pride event at that time and the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s decision to support it.

Describing her concerns, Räsänen said.

“And it was a shock to me, and as a member of that church … I asked the leadership of my church … ‘How is it possible that you are supporting something, as a matter of pride, what the Bible calls shame and a sin?’”

This has also happened here in America where people have been arrested for sharing certain Bible verses. In this case, she posted from the Book of Romans and after a citizen made a criminal complaint against her past statements that also came under scrutiny.

After another complaint was filed against her regarding views on same-sex relationships she had expressed on a radio program, charges were filed. Räsänen was then interrogated by police for 13 hours altogether, accused of “inciting against sexual minorities,” which could carry two years in jail or a fine.

She found herself sitting at a table in 2019 being questioned about her biblical views and the meaning of the book of Romans, simply for tweeting Romans 1:24-27, which condemns homosexuality as sinful.

She was charged with hate speech, violating the dignity and equality of the LGBTQ population.

You might be wondering if there are any protections for free speech and religion in Finland’s constitution. Yes, which is why she won the first court battle.

But Räsänen admitted that the whole process has been like a punishment and could have “a chilling effect for … Bible-believing Christians,” She thinks her case is a warning to others to not speak about their faith which is why this is so dangerous.

“Now it is time to use these rights to speak and to express your beliefs,” she said, warning of what could befall traditional Christians who hold to biblical doctrine. “What I have spoken or what I have written, it has been about similar things that Christians have spoken and have been teaching for decades, for 2,000 years.”

Remember, her dilemma was due to the fact she was praying about how to respond to her own church supporting a Pride month event, which she said was “quite shocking to me.” Many of her friends left the church but she decided to speak up.

I think this may be the greater point here, that some of our church leaders in America must be confronted on compromise or on trying to go with the world and please people rather than stay true to the Word of God.

Räsänen had also written a pamphlet back in 2004 which was attacked, called “Male and Female He Created Them: Homosexual Relationships Challenge the Christian Concept of Humanity.” Finland’s Office of the Prosecutor General declared her views were “likely to spark hatred and intolerance.”

Again, in the current case, she faces fines and up to two years in prison if convicted, but her case could impact the biblical writings, statements, and sermons of countless others.

It should be inspiring to us whenever a brother or sister in Christ takes a bold stand on the solid foundation of God’s word rather than man’s word. Räsänen is an example of keeping the faith and having joy even in distressing circumstances.

I admire her courage. She said this whole process is in God’s hands, and “…this has been a privilege and this has been my calling to fight now for these biblical issues…”

Amen. May we all have the same faith and perspective. Especially in the west, freedom is one thing we can no longer take for granted. We must fight for truth, for religious freedom and free speech, or the gospel will be censored and suppressed even more.

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