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“Hate Speech” Charges Against Former Finnish Minister for Citing Bible Verse Dismissed in Landmark Ruling


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Freedom of speech and religion has survived in Finland, for now at least.

A Helsinki court dismissed all “hate speech” charges against former Finnish minister Päivi Räsänen, ruling that her citation of Bible verses which described homosexuality as “shameful” and “unnatural” is part of religious free speech.

The monumental case put the Bible on trial as centuries-old Christian teachings about sex and marriage were claimed by prosecutors to “incite hatred” and violate legal preferences for government-privileged identity groups.

Prosecutors said Räsänen’s remarks were illegal because they represented an “affront to the equality and dignity of homosexuals.”

Räsänen faced a literal witch hunt and hours of police interrogation over her religious beliefs.

Christianity on Trial in Finland as Bible Deemed “Hate Speech”

Summit News reported:

Räsänen, an MP for Finland’s Christian Democrats party, posted comments criticizing the Finnish Lutheran Church for associating itself with LGBT activist causes.

Accusing the church of “elevating shame and sin to a point of pride,” Räsänen included an image of a Bible verse which denounced gay lifestyles as “shameful” and “unnatural.”

The former minister was subjected to hours of police interrogation over her beliefs and subsequently charged.

However, she avoided potential prison time after being acquitted in what had been seen as a major international litmus test for free speech.

The court unanimously declared that it “was not the district court’s duty to interpret biblical terms” and that “there must be an overriding social reason for interfering with and restricting freedom of expression.”

But as National Review noted, the fight to secure freedom of speech and religion continues.

But free speech isn’t out of hot water yet. Even in places around the world where there are clear legal protections for speech and religious practice, officials arrest and harass individuals who go against prevailing opinion. In Räsänen’s case, she was forced not only to defend herself in court, but also to seek the aid of people around the world to help expose the baselessness of the charges against her. But the process itself is the punishment for legally dubious cases.

So while we celebrate the acquittal of Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola and the strong decision of the court, defenders of free speech and religious freedom must continue to stand up for these rights around the world — for the sake of freedom and also simple common sense.



 

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