Court Acquits Bishop and Politician Facing Jail Time For Sharing Bible Verse On Homosexual

Päivi Räsänen - Finnish Politician
Päivi Räsänen - Finnish Politician

A Finnish member of Parliament and a Lutheran bishop, who was victorious in court this week after facing a years-long legal battle for sharing her biblical views on sexuality, said she is “grateful and relieved.”

Finnish court ruled in favor of Dr. Päivi Räsänen on Tuesday morning, affirming they have the legal right to say that homosexual acts are sin and marriage should be between a man and a woman. The appeals court unanimously affirms that the traditional interpretation of the Bible is not criminal hate speech.

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The unanimous ruling upholds a lower court decision from last year, which was also unanimous.

“I’m overjoyed,” said Päivi Räsänen, a Christian Democrat who has served in Parliament for 28 years. “This is a tremendous victory for us but also for everyone concerned with the protection of fundamental freedoms. … No one should be punished for peacefully expressing their faith” Christianity Today reported.

Räsänen was charged under the criminal hate crime statute for her 23-page booklet as well as for a tweet condemning the mainline Lutheran church’s support for a Pride event in 2019 and a follow-up radio interview where she said that, according to the Bible, “homosexual acts” are “sin and shame.”

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According to prosecutors, these statements were not only offensive but likely to incite hate and violence against LGBT people.

Juhana Pohjola, bishop of the conservative and confessional Evangelical Lutheran Mission church, said he and his family stopped and read Psalm 103 when they received the verdict: “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (vv. 1–2).

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Pohjola was charged with hate speech for the publication of Räsänen’s 23-page booklet, Male and Female He Created Them, in 2004. The text was part of the church’s catechetical series of Christian teachings on important issues.

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