Finland: Court dismisses hate speech charges against Christian lawmaker and Lutheran bishop

Monday, April 4, 2022

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - A court in Finland has acquitted a Christian lawmaker and a Lutheran bishop who was indicted on charges of hate speech for sharing their belief that Biblical marriage is between one man and one woman, CBN reports.

Three years after proceedings against them began, former interior minister Päivi Räsänen, and Bishop Juhana Pohjola of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission, were found not guilty on March 30.

The charges against Räsänen related to a pamphlet she wrote 20 years ago about Christian marriage, as well as to statements made in a broadcast interview, and to a 2019 tweet in which she asked why the State Lutheran Church officially supported Finland's Gay Pride week, CBN said. Pohjola was charged with publishing Räsänen’s pamphlet.

"This process has been long, it has lasted for three years, and it has not only consumed time and resources on my part, but also of the police and the court,'' Räsänen said in a statement after the ruling. “On the other hand, I have felt joy about being able to speak about the Gospel and the atonement of Jesus during these couple of years,” she added.

Räsänen added that she stands by her writings and her beliefs on Christian marriage, and attested that she had received letters from gay people telling her they had put their faith in Christ after hearing her story, CBN reports. Räsänen also stated that she stands for freedom of speech. “I am ready to defend freedom of speech and religion in all necessary courts, also in the European Court of Human Rights. I want to encourage others to use these basic rights also," she said.

Despite the acquittals, however, the prosecution has indicated their intention to appeal, CBN reports. "I had hoped that the prosecutor would have settled for this ruling, but today afternoon I heard that the prosecutors will very likely appeal to the Court of Appeal,” Räsänen said.