In what was called a “monumental victory for free speech” and religious freedom, a Finnish court dismissed charges leveled against a member of parliament following her tweeting a Bible verse.
In 2021, authorities charged parliament member Päivi Räsänen with “agitation against a minority group” for posting an excerpt from Genesis: “Male and female He created them.”
According to Finnish law, “agitation against a minority group” is classified as a violation of the “war crimes and crimes against humanity” act.
The issue made headlines in 2019 when Räsänen criticized churches sponsoring “pride parades.” During proceedings, prosecutors also referenced a pamphlet she promoted in 2004 titled, “Male & Female He Created Them,” and her views supporting traditional marriage shared during a 2019 radio interview.
According to a report in the Daily Caller, authorities charged and put on trial the publisher of the “Male & Female He Created Them” pamphlet, Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola. He was tried along with Räsänen.
Paul Coleman, Executive Director of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International and a lead in Räsänen’s legal team, shared the following statement after the case was dismissed: “At the heart of the prosecutor’s examination of Räsänen was this: would she recant her beliefs?”
Colemen added: “The answer was no – she would not deny the teachings of her faith. The cross-examination bore all the resemblance of a ‘heresy’ trial of the middle ages; it was implied that Räsänen had ‘blasphemed’ against the dominant orthodoxies of the day.”
Kristen Waggoner, president of the ADF, posted that Räsänen’s victory “should resonate globally.”
Waggoner celebrated the victory on X, writing: “Free speech isn’t just an American political liberty. It’s a human right. What happened to Päivi should not happen in any free society. We are grateful for this victory.”
Räsänen expressed that she was “deeply relieved.”
“It isn’t a crime to tweet a Bible verse or to engage in public discourse with a Christian perspective,” Räsänen. “The attempts made to prosecute me for expressing my beliefs have resulted in an immensely trying four years, but my hope is that the result will stand as a key precedent to protect the human right to free speech.”
Prosecutors have until mid-January to appeal the ruling of the court.
Scroll down to leave a comment and share your thoughts.