Finnish politician under investigation for citing Romans to oppose LGBT pride

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 Finland’s parliament is under investigation after she cited the New Testament on social media to voice her objection to the Lutheran church's participation in an LGBT pride event.

The Helsinki Times reports that the Helsinki Police Department has opened pre-trial investigations into remarks made by parliament members Päivi Räsänen and Hussein al-Taee, a Shia Muslim. 

The police department said in a news release that the two members of parliament have been accused of “agitating against an ethnic group.”

In June, Räsänen, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and former chair of the Christian Democrats, took to Facebook to criticize her denomination’s participation as an official partner of the Helsinki Pride parade. 

“How does the church's doctrine, the Bible, fit together with the cause where shame and sin are raised as a topic of pride?” Räsänen, the former minister of the interior, asked in a June 17 post. 

Räsänen, 59, 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.”

ELCF is the largest Christian denomination in Finland with over 5 million members. 

On Friday, the police department told the daily online newspaper that Räsänen’s post suggested that LGBT pride events were sinful and shameful. 

Al-Taee, a 36-year-old Shia Muslim who was elected to parliament this year as a member of the Finnish Social Democratic Party, is being investigated over Facebook posts published in 2011 and 2012 that are said to be disparaging toward sexual minorities and people of other religions. 

In April, Al-Taee apologized for his past remarks about homosexuals and Jews, Sunnis and others, saying that he feels “shame” for his past comments. 

“I come from a very conservative background where attitudes, such as gender roles and sexual minorities, are far from what I think now. In my growth environment, homosexuality was a taboo that had no words to deal with,” Al-Taee wrote on his website, according to The Jewish News Syndicate

“In my friends’ circle, one way to deal with this fear was also disdainful speech. As a student in Britain, I became acquainted with a homosexual teacher, I was confused in a way that now seems crazy.”

According to the police department’s news release, Finnish Criminal Code defines “agitation against a ethnic group” as making publicly available any information or opinion that “threatens, defames or defames a group based on race, color, descent, national or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, or disability.”

Agitating an ethnic group is punishable by a fine or two years imprisonment. 

In a tweet, Räsänen said she is not concerned about the investigation. 

“I am not worried about myself, as I trust that this will not go to the prosecutor,” the translation of her tweet reads, adding that she “hopes this does not lead to Christian self-censorship.”

Räsänen is no stranger to controversy as she has become known as a prominent Finnish defender of traditional Christian views on marriage, euthanasia and abortion. 

As Evangelical Focus notes, Räsänen’s views are often more conservative than those in the ECLF leadership. 

Räsänen’s Christian Democrat Party holds five seats in the Finnish parliament. 

The Helsinki Times reports that a third pre-trial investigation has been launched against parliament member Juha Mäenpää, who was accused of agitating an ethnic group for statements opposing asylum seekers. 

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

or Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

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