Accused Finish MP Päivi Räsänen Concerned over Religious Freedom of Christians in Europe
In 2004 MP Päivi Räsänen co-authored a church pamphlet about human sexuality for which she is additionally prosecuted on the grounds of ethnic aggravation . The other charges raised against her are based upon a TV interview and a social media post she made. If she is found guilty on all three counts she might be facing a prison sentence of up to six years. During a podcast with Jeff King, she told him that her case raises questions about religious freedom in Finland. "If, for example, any of the viewpoints contained in the Bible would be considered sufficient as such to fulfil the criteria for the crime of ethnic aggravation, then the distribution of the Bible, or rendering it available would in principle be considered a crime of ethnic aggravation and thus punishable", she cited a police report on her case. Talking to King she further stated: "This is also a question, are we allowed to agree with the Bible? Are we allowed to keep Bibles in public and teach what the Bible tells us? I think this is a very, very deep question of freedom of faith and religion."
Räsänen thinks that Finland is trying to make an example of her because of her high profile status since she is the former minister of the interior, and thus trying to teach Christians a lesson. Despite the case raised against her and the charges she might face, she said that since she was "not the only one who has been speaking about these things" she is determined "to speak up" and "try to wake up the people to what the Bible really says about this subject [of homosexuality]".
Räsänen stated she received "thousands of messages" of support from within Finland as well as internationally. "Of course this has raised up a lot of concern among Christians, but I think that I am happy and I'm grateful that... I believe that when God wakes up people to pray and to speak about [the] Bible, God has something good in His mind. And I believe that everything is in God's hands in this case, and I just hope that I could, in public, that I could give encouragement to Christians. That I will stand for these teachings of [the] Bible and I hope that other Christians also will do the same."
Photo by ADF International