A Finnish politician who faced a years-long legal battle for sharing her biblical views on sexuality has been found not guilty of hate speech for sharing a Bible verse, among other expressions.
Dr. Päivi Räsänen, a member of Finland’s parliament whose religious freedom plight made international headlines, expressed relief after the Helsinki Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the three criminal charges against her.
“I am deeply relieved,” Räsänen said in a statement shared with CBN Digital. “The court has fully endorsed and upheld the decision of the District Court, which recognized everyone’s right to free speech.”
The politician continued, “It isn’t a crime to tweet a Bible verse, or to engage in public discourse with a Christian perspective.”
Räsänen, who recently described the elongated legal battle over her Christian beliefs as “absurd,” “crazy,” and akin to “medieval times,” said the prosecutions have been personally difficult. But she hopes the conclusion of the case creates a “key precedent to protect the human right to free speech.”
“I sincerely hope other innocent people will be spared the same ordeal for simply voicing their convictions,” Räsänen added.
Räsänen’s Personal Battle
Finland’s former interior minister has been vocal about her legal plight, telling CBN Digital months before her latest vindication she simply could not believe she has had to face two separate legal battles for merely sharing her Christian beliefs.
“It was absurd and it was crazy that I had to defend the biblical truths and my interpretation about the Bible, my faith, and my beliefs in front of the judges,” Räsänen said after her August trial. “It is like in medieval times.”
Räsänen said the prosecutor gave “false statements” about her writings and comments, claiming Räsänen had “said that some people are inferior to others” — something the politicians said is patently untrue.
“I think that all people are equal,” Räsänen said. “We all are sinners; we all are … in need of grace, what Jesus has given, but the prosecutor was very stubborn with these arguments, even though the district court had already said that they didn’t find such statements in my writings or in my pamphlet.”
She added, “But the prosecutor said that it is not important if it is true or not, but if the interpretation is insulting, then it is criminal.”
Räsänen also explained why she believes the entire ordeal was truly “dangerous,” detailing why the government’s role in defining truth and morality is so concerning.
“It is not a court that should decide what is the right interpretation of the Bible and what is not,” she said. “Because I think that this kind of interpretation of discussions … it is not the court who starts to teach about the Bible or discuss what is the right interpretation of the Bible.”
Prosecutors also reportedly argued many Protestant churches accept gay marriage and same-sex relationships, thus underscoring Räsänen’s views.
The Back Story
As CBN Digital reported, Räsänen’s plight began June 17, 2019, when she tweeted the text of Romans 1:24-27, which condemns homosexuality as sinful. She 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 X account, sparking a criminal complaint.
Then, a pamphlet detailing biblical views on sexuality she wrote nearly 20 years ago and a radio interview also landed her in legal hot water, culminating in a trial last year. She was acquitted in the first legal battle before the prosecutor appealed and she ended up back in court again in the most recent legal debacle.
In the latest trial, Räsänen said the prosecutor argued she’s allowed to “believe in her mind whatever about the Bible, but it is illegal to express it outwardly.”
Räsänen could have faced a maximum punishment of two years in jail if convicted, though the prosecutor was reportedly pushing for a “heavy fine.”
Beyond that, though, Räsänen was most concerned the case essentially put the Bible on trial in Finland, despite the fact the nation has freedom of faith and speech enshrined in its constitution.
She worried about the potential impact of losing her case.
“It would start the time of persecution of Christians in Finland, if I would be convicted,” Räsänen previously said. “Many lawyers agree with me, and then it would have … ramifications to other European countries.”
Fortunately, that result won’t become a reality — at least for now.
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