A Finnish Christian politician who faces possible prison time for a Bible-affirming tweet said Monday ahead of her trial that she was concerned about the “eternal life” of individuals when she wrote the social media post.
Paivi Rasanen, a member of Finland’s Parliament and a former interior minister, is charged under the country’s hate speech law with “incitement” against a minority group for statements she made about LGBT individuals. One of those was a 2019 tweet in which she included a verse from Scripture and criticized the Finish Lutheran Church for “elevating shame and sin to a subject of pride” after the denomination supported Pride Week.
Prosecutors said the Bible-based statement “is an affront to the equality and dignity of homosexuals and is likely to provoke contempt, intolerance and even hatred towards homosexuals,” according to Agence France-Presse.
She could be sent to prison if found guilty, although prosecutors are asking the court to fine her, the BBC reported.
On Monday, she told the media she was “honored to be defending freedom of speech and religion.”
“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,” she said.
The other charges against her involve a 2004 article she wrote describing homosexuality as a psychosexual development disorder.
“It never occurred to me that my own writings could one day be illegal,” she said Monday.
Rasanen’s defense is supported by Alliance Defense Fund International. Her attorneys have “urged the court not to impose their own theological interpretation of Scripture on to citizens by criminalizing traditional Christian views on marriage and sexuality,” ADF International said.
A guilty verdict, ADF International said, “would appear as a de facto criminalization of the Bible verses tweeted by” a politician.
A conviction would “set a new European low bar for free speech standards,” said Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International.
Photo courtesy: ©Victor Malyushev/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.