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Exonerated Finnish Politician and Bishop to Return to Court Over Biblical ‘Hate Speech’…

Exonerated Finnish Politician and Bishop to Return to Court Over Biblical ‘Hate Speech’…

Räsänen’s alleged crime, according to prosecutors, stems from a 2004 pamphlet she wrote about the Lutheran teaching on sexuality, including the prohibition on homosexual activities. She then defended that teaching in a radio debate in 2019 and later posted a Tweet that criticized Lutheran participation in a gay pride parade and cited a Bible verse. Pohjola’s alleged crime is publishing the original pamphlet in 2004.

The prosecutors allege in their charges that the speech is “likely to cause intolerance, contempt, and hatred toward homosexuals.”

A district court dismissed the charges in March 2022, finding that it is not the judges’ job “to interpret biblical concepts.” In November 2023, an appellate court ruled it “has no reason … to assess the case in any respect differently from the District Court.” Both decisions were unanimous.

According to ADF, Räsänen has been subjected to 13 hours of police interrogation about her religious views and her understanding of the Bible. Paul Coleman, the executive director of ADF International, referred to the prosecutors’ insistence on prosecuting the case despite the prior dismissals as “alarming.” 

“Dragging people through the courts for years, subjecting them to hourlong police interrogations, and wasting taxpayer money to police people’s deeply held beliefs has no place in a democratic society,” Coleman said. “As is so often the case in ‘hate speech’ trials, the process has become the punishment.”

A 2023 Religious Freedom in the World report published by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need cited the Finnish case as one example of the threats to religious freedom growing in Western countries. The report found that intolerance toward faith-based views in the West is manifesting itself in compelled speech, hate speech laws, censorship, and the rise of cancel culture.

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