Christianity may be the official religion of Finland, but the country is currently exhibiting signs that, in practice the government and the state churches tolerate only a more secular and anti-biblical viewpoint, with tenets grounded in the sexual revolution. And one prominent Finnish citizen who shared her orthodox Christian views on sex and marriage may end up in jail because of it.
Päivi Räsänen is a 62-year-old medical doctor, the mother of five, and grandmother of seven. She has been a member of the Finnish Parliament since 1995 and even served as the country’s Minister of the Interior for four years. She is also a Bible-believing member of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, which along with the Orthodox Lutheran Church, comprise the two official state religions of Finland.
Räsänen was charged in 2021 with “ethnic agitation,” an offense that falls under war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country’s criminal code. The charges relate to a pamphlet she wrote in 2004 entitled “Male and Female He Created Them,” a radio appearance she made in 2019, and a social media post she published in 2019.
The 2004 pamphlet, which she was asked to write by her church, described homosexuality as “a disorder of psycho-sexual development.” The 2019 social media post asked how her church, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, could justify sponsoring and supporting a gay pride event. She posted a photo of Romans 1:24-27 along with her question.
A Lutheran bishop is also on trial with her for publishing Räsänen’s pamphlet in 2004.
She defends herself by explaining that she was challenging her church’s practice, not condemning homosexuals. If convicted, she could be sentenced to as much as two years in jail. She told CBN News in an interview that the censorship of her views, if she loses, would be even worse.
“The possible sentence for the crime of ethnic agitation would be up to two years imprisonment or a fine,” she told CBN. “But an even more serious problem would be the resulting censorship: an order to remove social media updates or a ban on posting. The sentence would open the floodgates to a ban on similar publications and the threat of modern book burnings.”
Finnish prosecutors described the Bible verses she quoted as “hate speech.”
Räsänen is represented by attorney Paul Coleman with Alliance Defending Freedom International. In a recent interview with The Federalist, Coleman commented on the “surreal” opening proceedings that began on January 24.
“The majority of the day was about the role of the Bible in society,” said Coleman, an Englishman who listened with the aid of translators. “The prosecutor on more than one occasion questioned whether we in Finland follow Finnish law or the Bible, as if these things are so inherently contradictory that you have to choose one.”
The case is reminiscent of the prosecution of Pastor Ake Green by Swedish prosecutors for similar comments he made in his sermons about homosexuality in 2003. Pastor Green was initially convicted of hate speech and sentenced to one month in jail, but the judgment was reversed on appeal.
Räsänen’s trial will resume on February 14.
Photo from ADF International.