In an appeals court on Thursday, Helsinki’s top prosecutor said he publicly quoted the Bible and published a booklet about Christian sexual ethics violates Finland’s “hate speech” law. The appeal increases the prosecution of this US ally against left-wing political dissidents, a marker of repressive regimes.
The prosecutor has charged MP Paivi Rasanen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola for writing and publishing, respectively, a support booklet for natural marriage.
“This [case] it’s a God-given wake-up call for Christians and others concerned about the direction our society is going,” Pohjola said at a post-court press conference Friday morning US time. He noted that convicting a religious leader to publish theological documents would criminalize Christianity in Finland and encourage similar oppression around the world.
Rasanen is also criminally charged with posting a Bible verse on X (formerly Twitter) and declaring Christian theology in a radio interview. The prosecutor flight all recordings of the radio interview removed and the pamphlet will not be available online, and fines imposed on both Christians.
“The content of my writings and speeches represent the classical Christian view of marriage and sexuality, the same one that the Churches have generally taught for two millennia,” Rasanen said in a statement. “I do not condone insulting, threatening or slandering anyone, and my statements have not included content of this nature. I consider this matter to be a theological discussion that should not be in a courtroom.”
In court Thursday, prosecutor Anu Mantila disagreed, arguing, “Condemning homosexual acts condemns homosexuals as human beings.” seconds to local reports in English. The Bible’s use of the word “sin” to describe any non-marital sexual act violates “sexual rights” and is “insulting” and “degrading,” Mantila argued, according to an Alliance Defending Freedom International (ADFI) account from the courtroom.
Friday morning, Mantila argued Hate speech laws criminalize “insults” and parts of the Bible: “There is material in the Bible that contradicts the principles of our society. That is why the interpretation of the law against discrimination”.
Orthodox Christianity has proclaimed for 2,000 years that marriage is defined by a lifelong union between a man and a woman, and all sexual activity outside of that union harms both the participants and society. Mantila argues that this basic Christian theology criminally insults homosexuals. Rasanen, Pohjola and their lawyers said that is not true.
“The core of the whole process is this: condemning sinful acts does not mean questioning the value and dignity of the person,” Pohjola told the court on Friday. “They are completely different things. The prosecutor propagates an understanding that goes completely against the Christian understanding of the human being, God and their relationship. Condemning sin is not questioning the dignity of the person.”
Hate speech laws criminalize Christianity
In interviews, Rasanen and Pohjola emphasized that Christianity has always taught that every human is guilty of transgressing God’s commandments and that God unleashed his just punishment for each of these sins upon his Son, Jesus Christ. This means that every person is loved and can be forgiven by God no matter what that person has done wrong.
“The prosecutor sees traditional Christianity as containing hatred and discrimination,” Pohjola said he said a local reporter after Thursday’s court session. “No value is given to the biblical revelation that all people have intrinsic value as God’s creation.”
Because of communist influence, much of the West has enacted speech restrictions similar to those in Finland. This includes dozens of US states and cities. All it would take is for the courts to interpret hate speech laws the way these Finnish prosecutors argue to criminalize Christianity in the West.
“Politicians are selling us hate speech laws saying they will target neo-Nazi types and make us safer.” pointed out Paul Coleman, an ADFI attorney supporting the case. “However, in no time they turn against a Christian grandmother who tweets a picture of some Bible verses.”
Cases like these are increasing globally. In Mexico this month, a former politician lost an appeal against his conviction for “gender political violence” for describing a transgender man as “a man who identifies himself as a woman.” Earlier this year, UK banks Closed accounts of leading politicians about their non-leftist views.
A Canadian shepherd and his family recently they went into exile in Kenya after the government began confiscating the bank accounts of opponents of the blockade. Minnesota is moving to put teacher licensing requirements that effectively ban Christians to work in public schools.
Looking for hate crimes
Finnish and European media call Rasanen’s human rights case “the trial of the Bible”. A lower court unanimously cleared Rasanen and Pohjola in March 2022. The two Christians have been on the court for more than four years.
In 2019, during a debate over whether Finland’s state church should sponsor anti-heterosexual parades, Rasanen tweeted an image of a Bible verse condemning homosexual acts. Because of the tweet, the Helsinki prosecutor began investigating Rasanen’s nearly 30 years of public statements.
Rasanen did not know she was being investigated until this fact was published in the newspaper. He didn’t believe it at first, so he called the police and then they confirmed it, he said at a news conference on Friday.
That research was discovered a booklet from 2004, “Male and female he created them.” Rasanen wrote and Pohjola published it seven years before Finland added “hate speech” provisions to its “war crimes” code. Mantila accused them of being criminals for writing and publishing the book. During this investigation, police questioned Rasanen about Christian theology and its political implications three times for a total of more than 13 hours.
“If writings based on biblical teachings were to be condemned, this would mean a serious restriction of freedom of religion,” Rasanen noted in his statement.
Rasanen is married to a pastor, a mother of five, a grandmother of 10, a doctor and a Christian Democrat. This is the party with the second least representative in the current Parliament of Finland. It is currently party of the nation’s governing coalition after right-wing parties won big in April elections.
US ally punishes speech and religion with criminal trials
Rasanen has also been the interior minister of the country that has just granted US military protection with Finland’s recent entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Finland only signed a $395 million deal with the United States for advanced rocket systems.
US lawmakers called on the Biden administration to use the United States’ considerable influence to urge Finland to stop persecuting religious exercise and freedom of speech, two natural human rights guaranteed in the US Constitution and international treaties.
“It is very clear: the process is the punishment. The selective targeting of these high-profile people is designed to systematically chill the speech of others under the threat of legal harassment and social stigmatism.” he wrote 16 House Republicans led by Rep. Chip Roy of Texas on August 8 to the US ambassador to Finland and the US ambassador at large. “This case will have worldwide ramifications.”
A reported 500 Hungarians gathered in front of their country’s Finnish embassy to show their support for Rasanen and Pohjola on Thursday.
For decades in Finland, Rasanen has publicly represented Christian moral positions that the left has politicized, such as natural marriage and pro-life. This has made him a target for LGBT activists. These include the Helsinki prosecutor, now possibly determined to keep the Christians in court all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, proceedings that would likely last more than a decade.
“Throughout my career I have been known as a Christian and as a biblical Christian who does not accept abortion and homosexual acts, etc. And I think that may be the reason why the prosecutor targeted me”, Rasanen he told The Federalist last summer in a “Problems, etc.” conference in Chicago.
Finland maintains a state-supported Lutheran church, of which 70 percent of the population are technically members. Pohjola was expelled from this church in 2014 by holding the commandments of the Bible about the differences between men and women. He is now bishop of an independent Lutheran church in the country. The Federalist interviewed him in person in 2021, inclusive by The Federalist Radio Hour.
The appeals court’s decision is expected in one to three months, Rasanen said.