Legal Law

Finnish Politician Räsänen Again Facing Demands for Prosecution Over Quoting Bible – JONATHAN TURLEY

Senior Finnish politician Päivi Räsänen has been acquitted twice after the Finnish government prosecuted her for quoting the Bible. Now, however, the Finish Public Prosecutor is seeking to appeal the November 2023 decision supporting her faith and free speech. Even with the widespread attacks on free speech across Europe, Finland is now a standout for its intolerance and extremism in defining opposing views “hate speech.”

We have previously followed the case and the chilling effort to criminalize religious speech as hate speech. It is equally troubling to see a leading politician subjected to such investigation and prosecution, sending a chilling message to all citizens that their own free speech will not be tolerated in Finland.

Räsänen is a long-standing member of Parliament, former leader of the Finnish Christian Democrats Party, and former national interior minister. She is also a physician and mother of five who is highly critical of homosexuality, which she describes as a “disorder of psychosexual development.”

In 2019, she questioned her church’s sponsorship of an LGBT pride event. On June 17th of that year, she proceeded to post a statement on Twitter questioning how the sponsorship was compatible with the Bible, linking to a photograph of a biblical passage, Romans 1:24-27, on Instagram. She also posted the text and image on Facebook.

She later said that “[t]he purpose [of] my tweet was in no way to insult sexual minorities. My criticism was aimed at the leadership of the church.”

She was charged under a law concerning “war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

In 2022, the District Court of Helsinki unanimously acquitted Räsänen on the hate speech charges and held that “it is not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts.” Rather than rethink its attack on free speech, the Finnish government then appealed to the Helsinki Court of Appeal. The government again lost unanimously.

Now the Public Prosecutor is appealing to the Supreme Court in what seems more like a blind rage than reasoned lawyering. It is a glimpse of the slippery slope that awaits this country if our own anti-free speech movement takes hold.

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