Court Clears Christians of “Hate Speech”

Bishop Juhana Pohjola and Dr. Päivi Räsänen

“A Finnish court has dismissed all charges against a Christian member of Parliament and a bishop charged under Finland’s ‘hate speech’ and ‘ethnic agitation’ law for supporting traditional marriage. The court ordered the government to reimburse the two. In a unanimous ruling Wednesday, the Helsinki District Court determined that it isn’t its job ‘to interpret biblical concepts’ in dropping the case against Päivi Räsänen, a member of the Finnish Parliament and former minister of interior, and Bishop Juhana Pohjola. Early in the case, the prosecutor’s office said Räsänen’s statements ‘violate the equality and dignity of homosexuals, so they transcend the boundaries of freedom of speech and religion.’  The prosecutor quoted a Bible verse included in Räsänen’s tweet. In the closing argument of the trial, the prosecution alleged that the word ‘sin’ could be ‘harmful’ and called for heavy fines in the event of a guilty verdict. Prosecutors charged Pohjola, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, with one count of violating the law in connection with hosting a pamphlet published by Räsänen on his church’s website 17 years ago. But the court didn’t agree and issued a stinging defeat to the government, ordering the prosecution to pay 60,000 euros (about $66,940) in legal costs, according to Alliance Defending Freedom. The government has seven days to appeal. Räsänen, 62, who is a member of the center-right Christian Democrat Party, has been a member of the Finnish Parliament since 1995. From 2011 to 2015, she was the government’s interior minister. In 2004, Räsänen published a pamphlet, titled ‘Male and Female He Created Them,’ about the Bible’s teaching on marriage. In 2019, she spoke on a radio program about her controversial tweet including a photo of Romans 1: 24–27, which says that ‘women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones’ and ‘Men committed shameful acts with other men.’ For that, prosecutors charged Räsänen with three counts of violating Finland’s ethnic agitation law.”

The Daily Signal, Mar. 30, 2022