Police are investigating Päivi Räsänen, a Christian Parliament Member in Finland, for a 2019 tweet of Romans 24-27, which questioned her church for supporting a LGBT event.
According to The Christian Post, Räsänen has been a member of Parliament since 1995 and chaired the Christian Democrat Party. Police are looking into interviews she also gave to a television program and radio station on her beliefs.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a US-based international law firm, is representing Räsänen and says this is not the first time she’s been investigated for alleged “hate speech.”
“The Prosecutor General initiated a second, third, and fourth investigation,” said ADF. “These concerned a pamphlet that Räsänen wrote more than 16 years ago outlining the official teaching of her own church on human sexuality, a television interview, and a radio interview. Despite the police previously concluding that no crime had been committed, the Prosecutor General re-opened the file.”
In 2018, Räsänen was interviewed on TV and discussed religious beliefs with the presenter. The next year, Räsänen answered the question, “What would Jesus think about homosexuals?” in a radio interview that stirred controversy.
“In a free society, everyone should be allowed to share their beliefs without fear of censorship,” said Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International and author of Censored: How European Hate Speech Laws are Threatening Freedom of Speech.
“This is the foundation of every free and democratic society. Criminalizing speech through so-called ‘hate-speech’ laws shuts down important public debates and poses a grave threat to our democracies. These sorts of cases create a culture of fear and censorship and are becoming all too common throughout Europe,” he said.
Räsänen is concerned with the police’s radical response.
“I never thought I would face a criminal investigation for sharing my deeply held beliefs,” she said. “It came as a total surprise. As a Christian and a democratically elected Member of Parliament, I have often heard things with which I disagree—sometimes very strongly. At times, I have felt insulted. I believe the best response to this is more debate, not censorship.”
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine.