Christians around the globe rejoiced when a Finnish court dismissed all hate speech charges against lawmaker and former interior minister Päivi Räsänen — but it seems her legal battle is reigniting.
Finnish prosecutors reportedly intend to appeal the March 30 decision from the Helsinki District Court to throw out charges, meaning Räsänen’s religious freedom battle is far from over.
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Her attorneys with ADF International were reportedly told of the appeal last Wednesday after Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen’s office told a local attorney the case will be appealed.
The politician, in reaction to reports about an appeal, said she’s in “dismay,” according to Christian Today.
“This case has been hanging over me and my family for almost three years,” she said. “After my full exoneration in court, I am dismayed that the prosecutor will not let this campaign against me drop.”
Räsänen continued, “Once again, I am prepared to defend freedom of speech and religion not just for me, but for everyone. I am grateful for all those who have stood by me during this ordeal and ask for their continued support.”
As Faithwire previously reported, Räsänen, whose criminal trial began Jan. 24 and ended Feb. 14, was charged with violating the dignity and equality of the LGBTQ population by engaging in purported hate speech.
But what’s the history behind the troubling, free speech case? Räsänen told Faithwire in February her plight began June 17, 2019, when she tweeted the text of Romans 1:24-27, which condemns homosexuality as sinful.
At the time, Räsänen was alarmed over a decision by her denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, to support an LGBTQ Pride event, so she responded by sharing Scripture on her Twitter account.
“This was quite shocking to me, and I was thinking, ‘What should I do now?’” she said of the church’s support for the event. “In fact, I was praying, ‘Is it now my time to resign the church as some of my friends have done?’”
But Räsänen said she got a “very clear vision” that it wasn’t time to leave the denomination and that she was being called to “try to speak loud and try to wake up those who are sleeping.”
So, Räsänen shared her biblical citation and critique — and debate immediately followed. Soon, LGBTQ advocates spoke out and, before long, she said the police began investigating her comments.
Other statements she made about biblical marriage were soon at the forefront of the discontentedness, including a 2004 pamphlet she wrote, “Male and Female He Created Them: Homosexual Relationships Challenge the Christian Concept of Humanity.”
Finland’s Office of the Prosecutor General argued Räsänen’s comments and statements weren’t merely unpalatable but were likely to spark hatred and intolerance.
The prosecutor contended these statements “transcend freedom of speech and religion,” because they targeted the “equality and dignity of homosexuals.”
Räsänen was brought up on criminal charges and went on trial. The politician faced fines and up to two years in prison if convicted, and her pamphlet could have been banned — something she argued would have a chilling effect on biblical writings, statements, and sermons.
While she won her case, it’s uncertain what an appeal will mean when it comes to these potential punishments.
Despite the unknown, one thing seems certain: Räsänen won’t back down from her beliefs. In fact, she told CBN News before the March 30 verdict that she had no plans of retreating from defending her biblical views.
“I’m going to fight so far as it is possible, and I will not recant what I have said, will not renounce my beliefs and my faith,” Räsänen said. “And I will encourage all Christians to be open about their faith and open about the Bible.”
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