In 2019, Päivi Räsänen Of Finland expressed her thoughts through a tweet directed at her church. The essence of her tweet was straightforward: she raised questions about the decision to sponsor a local pride parade. Räsänen probed whether this action aligned with the principles of their Christian faith, adding a relevant scripture passage to her post.
Presently, Räsänen finds herself on the cusp of facing the judicial system for a second time, grappling with criminal charges categorized as “hate speech.” This distinguished figure, who has long been a part of the Finnish Parliament, a medical practitioner, and a grandmother, has experienced a grueling four-years of prosecution orchestrated by the Finnish government, all over a tweet.
NEW: Päivi Räsänen will be in court later this month, AGAIN facing "hate speech" charges for her Bible verse tweet📘. A district court unanimously cleared her of the charges, but a prosecutor appealed. @ADFIntl represents her in this important case⚖️https://t.co/bbxLnhvw1s
— Tyler O'Neil (@Tyler2ONeil) August 9, 2023
Subsequent to enduring an arduous 13-hour session of police interrogation, the authorities delved into Räsänen’s past that resulted in three charges of “agitation against a minority group.” These charges stem from the aforementioned tweet, as well as references to a 2004 church pamphlet and a 2019 radio appearance.
Bishop Juhana Pohjola of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland also faced criminal charges for publishing the pamphlet, which examined a Biblically-rooted understanding of marriage.
The repercussions of these charges carry substantial fines amounting to tens of thousands of euros, and the possibility of a two-year imprisonment. The Helsinki District Court issued a unanimous acquittal, accompanied by a clear declaration that “the district court is not tasked with interpreting biblical concepts.”
However, the Finnish legal framework permits legal double jeopardy, enabling prosecutors to challenge the verdict all the way to the Supreme Court based solely on their discontent with the ruling. On August 31, Räsänen and the bishop will return to the courtroom with the backing of ADF International for their legal defense.
Sixteen members of the United States Congress dispatched a letter to Rashad Hussain, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, and Douglas Hickey, the U.S. Ambassador to Finland.
This was a direct response to Räsänen’s prosecution, which the Congress members deemed “egregious and harassing. No American, no Finn, and no individual should endure legal intimidation for simply embodying their religious convictions.”
By championing Räsänen’s cause, the U.S. government would not only signify its support for her, but also convey its resolute commitment to safeguarding the rights of every individual confronted by the threat of censorship.