‘I hope that today it can become clear that I have no wish to offend any group of people, but this is a question of saving people for eternal life’ – Päivi Räsänen said upon arrival at court.[i] The Finnish Christian Democrat MP and former minister of the interior went on trial on Monday after she posted passages from the Bible (Romans 1:24-27) on Twitter in 2019, criticizing the Finnish Lutheran Church for participating in Gay Pride events. The former Chairperson of the Finnish Christian Democrats was accused of inciting anti-LGBTQ hate speech for which she could be sentenced to up to two years of prison, but Päivi insists her tweet was not meant to be an attack on homosexuals, rather a critique of her church. The start of Päivi Räsänen’s trial on Monday has received huge international media coverage as it is seen as a landmark case on hate speech and religious freedom which could set a precedent, and have an effect on Christians all around the world. The former minister gave an interview to the Hungarian weekly Hetek after her first court hearing.
‘Although we tried to prepare for the trial in every way, I was very restless the night before the trial, I could barely sleep, but when we got to court, I was very calm. I am sure God has heard the prayers of me and many thousands of Christians. It was a long day, but I was empowered to respond patiently and with good conscience to all the accusations, even to the most absurd ones,’ Räsänen said.
The headlines referred to the case as the “Bible trial”. ‘The hearing was broadcast live by several news agencies, that is why I am glad I was able to say the central message of Scripture that there is a solution to the problem of sin: Jesus died on the cross for all of us and received forgiveness for us. I have told the Finnish court that the Bible has a perspective on eternity, and we cannot hide it from people either,’ the politician said, adding that the extraordinary stake of the trial could be felt in the room.
The former Finnish minister of interior said it was shocking that the prosecutor had tried to prove a series of lies in his indictment and through his questions. ‘He said, for example, that I do not think homosexuals were created by God. Of course I never said that because everyone is God’s creature. Another accusation of his was that I consider homosexuals to be “inferior people” who are “born with degenerate genes”. There is no such thing, I never said that,’ Räsänen emphasized.
The Finnish MP also found it strange that the prosecutor had tried to find out again and again during the trial what she considers a sin
The Finnish MP also found it strange that the prosecutor had tried to find out again and again during the trial what she considers a sin. ‘He asked me why the sexual relationship between a heterosexual couple is good and why it is wrong for a homosexual couple according to the Bible. The judge also warned the prosecutor that the case is not to decide on theological issues but on my writings. It was very bizarre, but the media understood from this that the lawsuit is actually about the Bible. This was also supported by the fact that no victims were present at the trial, not even those who have reported me,’ Räsänen highlighted.
She added that the international media attention also indicates that the aim of the lawsuit is to set a precedent that can be used to restrict freedom of speech not only in Finland but throughout the European Union. ‘If I am convicted, the door will be opened to a series of such lawsuits. A very strong LGBTQ network is ready to use this precedent against Bible believer Christians. That is why the stakes are very high, because we cannot allow public reference to the Bible to be banned. It was quite revealing that according to the Finnish Attorney General, if I am convicted, the “Bible could still be in the libraries”. Yet it had been said during the police interrogations that if my study of biblical marriage is banned, any part of the Bible could be banned as hate speech.’
‘For us Christians, however, the Bible is the foundation of our faith, so they cannot forbid us to tell people what Jesus teaches,’ summarized Päivi Räsänen the stakes of her lawsuit.[ii]
[i] ‘Päivi Räsänen: Finland’s ex-interior minister goes on trial for anti-LGBT+ hate speech’, Euronews.com, 2022, https://www.euronews.com/2022/01/24/paivi-rasanen-finland-s-ex-interior-minister-goes-on-trial-for-anti-lgbt-hate-speech, accessed 28 Jan. 2022.
[ii] Morvay Péter, ‘Finn volt belügyminiszter: A nemzetközi LMBTQ-hálózat Magyarországon is hasonló „Biblia-perekre” készül’, Hetek.hu, 2022, https://www.hetek.hu/cikkek/online/finn-volt-belugyminiszter-a-nemzetkozi-lmbtq-halozat-magyarorszagon, accessed 28 Jan. 2022.