A long-time member of Finland’s Parliament is in court this week for a second trial related to claims that she violated the nation’s hate speech laws by posting a passage from the Bible.
Although a court decided to drop the charges against 62-year-old Paivi Rasanen last year, prosecutors decided to try again, taking advantage of the fact that Finland does not provide defendants protection against double jeopardy.
Prior to facing charges last year, prosecutors claimed that her remarks incited “intolerance, contempt, and hatred toward homosexuals.”
The case stems from a 2019 social media post in which she quoted Romans 1:24-27 in response to her church’s support of an LGBT pride event. Ahead of a court date scheduled for Thursday, she issued a statement declaring that she is “ready to defend her freedom of expression in all necessary courts.”
Former Minister of the Interior, Paivi Rasanen, was originally prosecuted for hate speech stemming from her 2019 tweets that challenged her Church's sponsorship of the 2019 Helsinki Pride Parade. She shares where she is at today. pic.twitter.com/bh4jo0Q3Wn
— EWTN News Nightly (@EWTNNewsNightly) August 29, 2023
Her press release went on to emphasize the nature of her statements, which she insisted have never expressed hate toward any group of people.
“The content of my writings and my speeches represents the classical Christian view of marriage and sexuality, the same as the Churches have generally taught for two millennia,” Rasanen said. “I do not condone insulting, threatening or slandering anyone, and my statements have not included content of such a nature.”
Nevertheless, she claimed that she has endured relentless attacks, repeated questioning from authorities, and now two criminal trials as a result of her decision to express her religious beliefs.
“If writings based on biblical teachings were to be condemned, that would mean a serious restriction of freedom of religion. It is natural that this would raise concerns among Christians both in Finland and internationally,” Rasanen declared.
Her predicament has attracted global attention, including from a group of Republican U.S. lawmakers who wrote a letter on her behalf to the U.S. ambassador to Finland and the U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
“This prosecutor is dead set on weaponizing the power of Finland’s legal system to silence not just a member of parliament and Lutheran bishop but millions of Finnish Christians who dare to exercise their natural rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion in the public square,” the legislators wrote.