Finland: Christian MP faces 2 new investigations for comments on Jesus, homosexuality

Päivi Räsänen speaks in Espoo, Finland in May 2009.
Päivi Räsänen speaks in Espoo, Finland in May 2009. | Wikimedia Commons/Eurooppalainen Suomi

A Christian member of the Finnish Parliament is facing new police investigations for citing Bible verses on social media to object to the Lutheran church’s participation in an LGBT pride event, according to a U.S.-based international law firm.

Päivi Räsänen, a Member of Parliament since 1995 and former chair of the Christian Democrat Party, wrote a tweet last year questioning the leadership of her church for sponsorship the LGBT event “Pride 2019,” accompanied by an image of a Bible text, according to Alliance Defending Freedom.

Accused of “hate speech” as a result, Räsänen was interrogated by the police at the time.

“The Prosecutor General then initiated a second, third, and fourth investigation,” ADF said. “These concerned a pamphlet that Räsänen wrote more than 16 years ago outlining the official teaching of her own church on human sexuality, a television interview, and a radio interview. Despite the police previously concluding that no crime had been committed, the Prosecutor General re-opened the file.”

The prosecutor last week opened two additional investigations about interviews she gave to a television program and a radio station.

One concerns her comments on a TV show in 2018 in which the presenter came to Räsänen’s home and stayed overnight. In the program, they discussed religious matters, including Räsänen’s personal beliefs. The fourth investigation focuses on a radio interview last year, in which Räsänen commented on the show’s topic of discussion, “What would Jesus think about homosexuals?”

Last week, the police interviewed Räsänen, who was the minister of the Interior from 2011 to 2015, during which she held responsibility for church affairs in Finland.

“In a free society, everyone should be allowed to share their beliefs without fear of censorship,” said Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International.

“This is the foundation of every free and democratic society. Criminalizing speech through so-called ‘hate-speech’ laws shuts down important public debates and poses a grave threat to our democracies. These sorts of cases create a culture of fear and censorship and are becoming all too common throughout Europe,” added Coleman, author of Censored: How European Hate Speech Laws are Threatening Freedom of Speech.

“I never thought I would face a criminal investigation for sharing my deeply held beliefs,” Räsänen said. “It came as a total surprise. As a Christian and a democratically elected Member of Parliament, I have often heard things with which I disagree – sometimes very strongly. At times, I have felt insulted. I believe the best response to this is more debate, not censorship.”

She added, “These police investigations raise concerns about limiting the freedoms that have been guaranteed in our Constitution and in international human rights treaties. A major threat for freedom of religion and free speech is that we don’t make use of these rights. I hope these criminal investigations won’t lead to self-censorship among Christians. I am going to use my rights regardless of the police investigation. I encourage others to do the same.”

In her 2019 tweet, she cited Romans 24-27 and posted a picture of the passage from the Bible.

The passage reads: “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

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