Dr. Päivi Räsänen, the embattled member of Finland’s parliament who was recently cleared of hate speech charges over her biblical views and statements on homosexuality, revealed Friday a prosecutor is appealing her victory.
“I am ready to defend freedom of speech and religion in the higher courts,” Räsänen said in a statement to Faithwire. “Today, April 29, 2022, the prosecutor has announced that she will appeal to the unanimous acquittal verdict of the District Court in the ‘Bible Trial’ to the Court of Appeal on all counts.”
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Räsänen said the case could make its way up to Finland’s Supreme Court and would cement the legal structure through which religious freedom is handled in the European nation.
The politician said she has already spent nearly three years fighting for her religious rights, and the appeal now means she could be in for additional years of court battles. Still, Räsänen remained resolute — and expressed her contentedness over the fact the case is catapulting essential conversations about the Bible to the forefront.
“I am happy that this decision will lead to the discussion of the teaching in Bible continuing in Finnish society,” she wrote. “I am ready to defend freedom of speech and religion in all necessary courts and as far as the European Court of Human rights.”
One of the most challenging parts of the legal battle, Räsänen said, has been allegations made by the prosecutor. Räsänen offered an example of some of the statements she says are falsifications. One was a charge made by prosecutors based on a 2004 pamphlet Räsänen wrote, “Male and Female He Created Them: Homosexual Relationships Challenge the Christian Concept of Humanity.”
“The prosecutor claims in this appeal that I said in the 2004 pamphlet that ‘all homosexuals are and should be regarded as inferior,’ in fact I have never said that, and I do not hold that view now or in the past,” Räsänen said. “On the contrary, in the pamphlet, I state that ‘According to the Christian concept of humanity, everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, is equal and of equal value’ And that ‘Our fundamental rights quite correctly prohibit discrimination against people based, inter alia, on sexual inclination, but this does not require the elevation of anomalous relationships to the status of marriage.'”
Considering newfound uncertainty, Räsänen expressed worry that the “teaching of the Bible on sin” could be made illegal in Finland if the results of the appeal move against her but remains “confident of victory.”
As Faithwire has extensively reported, Räsänen’s criminal trial, which began Jan. 24 and ended Feb. 14, came after she was charged with violating the dignity and equality of the LGBTQ population by engaging in purported hate speech.
Räsänen told Faithwire in a February interview that 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 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.” 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.
Despite the unknown, one thing seems inevitable: 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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