UPDATE: Päivi Räsänen Stands Trial Again For Sharing her Christian Worldview

Country: Finland

Date of incident: September 1, 2023

During the 31st of August and the 1st September, Finnish Politian Päivi Räsänen and Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola stood trial at the Helsinki Court of Appeal for the charges brought against them of "inciting hatred" against LGBT people. These charges are based upon a Twitter post made by Räsänen in 2019, as well as a pamphlet and a radio interview. Last year, Räsänen and Pohjola were unanimously acquitted of all charges, but due to the appeal by the prosecutor, they stood trial again. The verdict will be announced in November 30th.

After the trial, Räsänen commented that she was “hopeful that all these charges will be acquitted. It’s a very important verdict for freedom of speech and of religion and Finland, and also has consequences across Europe, I’m hopeful for a good result.” 

During the trial, the prosecutors said that the case was not about faith and theology, and that “the authors of the Bible are not indicted”. They also added that anyone “can cite the Bible”, but that “it is Räsänen’s interpretation and opinion about the Bible verses that are criminal”. The prosecutors also argued that the use of the word "sin" was derogatory.

According to Paul Coleman, director of the human rights organisation ADF, who are supporting Räsänen's case, the prosecutors continually engaged in "discussions about God, the Bible and sin”.

Bishop Pohjola commented that the “prosecutor is propagating an understanding that is against the Christian understanding” He said to the court that “condemning sinful deeds does not mean questioning a person’s worth and dignity. These are completely different things. The prosecutor is propagating an understanding that is fully against the Christian understanding. Condemning sin does not question a person’s dignity”.

Bishop Pohjola also added: “The very idea of religious freedom is that you are free to teach the Christian message, even if someone finds it offensive, but then you can exercise your right not to listen”.

Source: Evangelical FocusADF InternationalCatholic Herald

Picture: Courtesy of ADF International