Second investigation: Finnish Christian MP investigated for 2004 pamphlet on homosexuality

Country: Finland

Date of incident: November 5, 2019

On November 4th, the Finnish State General Prosecutor issued a press release announcing the launch of a pre-trial investigation into the publication and distribution of the 2004 pamphlet "Mieheksi ja naiseksi hän heidät loi" (in English, “Male and female He created them”), authored by Päivi Räsänen, the Finnish politician investigated by the police for a tweet in June 2019 quoting the Bible on the issue of homosexuality. Although the pamphlet was printed 15 years ago, it will be included in the case against the Christian politician because it is still “available online.” Räsänen, who served in the past as Minister of the Interior of the government of Finland, risks being accused under Section 10 of the Criminal Code of Finland for “ethnic agitation,” a crime punishable with a fine or prison.

The Member of Parliament and leader of the parliamentary group of the Christian Democratic Party was interrogated by the police on November 1st for approximately four hours in connection with the June 2019 tweet. Räsänen said, “the police let me understand that they shall not close the case,” which has caused a freedom of speech controversy. Read about the tweet investigation here.

Three days later, the State General Prosecutor announced that launch of a second investigation of Räsänen, this one concerning a 24-page pamphlet, written by Räsänen in 2004. The pamphlet commented on church and social policy, marriage and sexuality, and their related interpretations of the Bible and was published by the Luther Foundation Finland. It remains available on its website.

Office of the Prosecutor General of Finland, published the following press release on November 4, 2019 (translated from Finnish):

Preliminary Investigation to be conducted concerning the pamphlet of Ms Päivi Räsänen, MP 
4 November 2019, 2:34pm (local time)

Ms Raija Toiviainen, Prosecutor General of Finland, has mandated a preliminary investigation to be conducted in the matter concerning Member of Parliament Päivi Räsänen regarding her pamphlet “Mieheksi ja naiseksi hän heidät loi” [Male and female He created them].

The matter at hand is a publication of Suomen Luther-säätiö [The Luther Foundation Finland] from 2004. This pamphlet takes a stand on ecclesiastical policy, social policy, sexuality and marriage in regard to the Bible and its interpretation.

Previously, the police concluded that there was no need for a preliminary investigation, as there was no reason to believe that a crime had been committed.

The Prosecutor General, who was requested to re-evaluate this matter, in assessing the balance between the basic and human rights of the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion and non-discrimination, reached a different conclusion than did the police.

According to the Prosecutor General, there is reason to believe that because of the defamation of homosexuals by the violation of their human dignity, Ms Räsänen is guilty of incitement to hatred against a group. Therefore, there will be a preliminary investigation in this matter.

The preliminary investigation will be carried out by the Helsinki Police Department. There is no further information available at the moment."

In an interview with Rod Dreher for the American Conservative following the announcement of the second investigation, Räsänen said:
"The Christian view of man is currently attacked, whether we think of questions relating to sexuality and gender, protection of life, or concepts such as man or woman, boy or girl. This is sad, as the foundation of the Finnish legislation and civilization lie in Christianity. In these questions we are at the core of unalienable truths. God created man in His own image – therefore human life is sacred and worthy of protection from the beginning to the end and meant to bring glory to God. Our legislation may change, but the laws of nature do not change, nor does the Word of God. As a Christian, I believe it is always the right time to speak about the truths of the Word of God."

"I have emphasized that my purpose was in no way to insult sexual minorities. My criticism was aimed to the leadership of the church. As a Christian, I think that if someone expresses an opinion that is against my faith or my conscience, it does not mean that I have been threatened, defamed or insulted the way the Criminal Code means it. As we are living in a democratic country, we must be able to disagree and express our disagreement. We have to be able to cope with speech that we feel insults our feelings. Many questions are so debatable and contradictory that we have to have the possibility of discussing. Otherwise the development is towards a totalitarian system, with only one correct view."

"I hope these criminal investigations won’t lead to self-censorship among Christians. I am worried that the police investigations might have a chilling effect among Christians. It seems that many Christians in my country are now hiding and going to the closet now that the LGBT community has come out to the public. I am concerned that in the future Christians will have a higher threshold at citing the Bible or presenting teachings based on the Bible. The more we keep silent about these controversial topical themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech and religion gets."

Sources: Evangelical Focus, CBN, Helsinki Times, Website of Päivi Räsänen