Päivi Räsänen, a Christian member of the Finnish Parliament, is facing six years imprisonment for allegedly committing three crimes regarding her opinion on marriage and sexuality.
Räsänen, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and former chair of the Christian Democrats, has been under investigation by police since June 2019 after questioning the leadership at the Finnish Lutheran church she attended.
At the time, the church had sponsored the LGBT event 'Pride 2019' by using an image with a Bible text. In response, Räsänen questioned the church's leadership in a tweet, which later got her in trouble for committing hate speech. She subsequently underwent several interviews by police regarding her views and waited more than a year for the General Prosecutor to determine whether the prosecution should continue.
According to The Christian Post, Räsänen also faces crimes for comments she made on a 2018 TV show and a 2004 pamphlet where she outlined the official teaching of her own church on human sexuality.
ADF International, the Christian legal group representing Räsänen, stated that the politician faces two years in prison for each crime.
"I cannot accept that voicing my religious beliefs could mean imprisonment. I do not consider myself guilty of threatening, slandering or insulting anyone. My statements were all based on the Bible's teachings on marriage and sexuality," Räsänen said in a statement.
"I will defend my right to confess my faith, so that no one else would be deprived of their right to freedom of religion and speech," she asserted. "I hold on to the view that my expressions are legal and they should not be censored. I will not back down from my views. I will not be intimidated into hiding my faith. The more Christians keep silent on controversial themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech gets."
Paul Coleman, the Executive Director of ADF International, explained that "Freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones of democracy."
"The Finnish Prosecutor General's decision to bring these charges against Dr. Räsänen creates a culture of fear and censorship," he added. "It is sobering that such cases are becoming all too common throughout Europe. If committed civil servants like Päivi Räsänen are criminally charged for voicing their deeply held beliefs, it creates a chilling effect for everyone's right to speak freely."
Räsänen, who is also a medical doctor and a grandmother, has been a member of Parliament since 1995. She has become a prominent defender of traditional Christian views on marriage, euthanasia and abortion. Her views are considered more conservative than those in the ECLF leadership.
In similar news, as Christian Headlines previously reported, a London pastor was arrested last week for preaching that marriage is between a man and a woman.
London Pastor Arrested for Sermon on Marriage: 'I Was Only Saying What the Bible Says'
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Kutay Tanir
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.