Finnish MP On Trial Again For Quoting Bible

More than a year after a district judge dismissed the initial allegations against her, a prominent member of Finland’s parliament is set to appear in court once again to confront “hate speech” accusations stemming from a social media post referencing Bible verses.

Päivi Räsänen, a 62-year-old medical doctor and grandmother of seven, expressed in a press release her unwavering commitment to safeguarding her freedom of expression through all available legal avenues. Räsänen’s second court appearance is slated for August 31st at 9 a.m. and September 1st at the Helsinki Court of Appeals.

In the beginning, the Helsinki District Court resoundingly dismissed the allegations of hate speech against both Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola in February 2022, citing their Christian ideological standpoint on marriage as the basis for the decision.

In spite of the unanimous acquittal, Räsänen noted in an official statement that the extensive four-year inquiry encompassed groundless allegations, continual police interrogations, district court hearings, and an impending appeal hearing.

The ongoing issues and legal disputes were ignited after Räsänen questioned her church’s endorsement of a Pride event in a 2019 tweet, which contained a link to an Instagram post featuring excerpts from Bible verses Romans 1:24–27.

Räsänen defended her stance, stating, “The content of my writings and my speeches reflects the traditional Christian view of marriage…consistent with teachings embraced by the majority of Churches for over two millennia. I do not endorse any form of insult, threat, or slander, and my statements have never contained such elements.”

The Finnish politician staunchly maintained that the 34-page complaint “directly challenges the fundamental principles of the Christian faith,” highlighting the prosecutors previous comparison of the Bible to Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

At the time of the initial allegations, Finland’s state prosecutor asserted that Räsänen’s statements were deliberately crafted to “incite intolerance, disdain, and animosity” towards gays.

During the trial, prosecutors presented unrelated Bible verses that were not part of Räsänen’s social media post, labeling them as “harmful” speech, while contending that the term “sin” could be construed as injurious and offensive. Räsänen underscored that the trial “serves as a deterrent” to those wishing to exercise their constitutional rights to religion and free speech.

She emphasized, “Condemning writings rooted in biblical teachings would signify a grave infringement on religious freedom. Naturally, this raises concerns among Christians both within Finland and globally.”