A Christian politician in Finland who faces six years in prison for sharing her deeply held biblical beliefs on sex and marriage says it’s “quite a privilege” to be questioned about her religious beliefs.
MP Päivi Räsänen, who was interrogated by police for more than 13 hours and asked about her interpretation of the letters of the apostle Paul in the Bible, will appear in court next Monday on criminal charges for expressing her beliefs about marriage and sexuality.
She is the author of a 2004 pamphlet on sexual ethics describing marriage between a man and a woman. She also expressed her views on a 2019 radio show and tweeted church leadership on the matter.
“I thought it was a privilege to have these kinds of discussions with the police,” Räsänen said in an interview with Alliance Defending Freedom International, a legal nonprofit that specializes in religious freedom cases and who supports the 62-year-old former interior officer. Minister.
“I had the opportunity several times during these hours to tell the police the message of the Gospel, what the Bible teaches about the value of human beings, that all people are created in the image of God and c that’s why they’re all valuable.”
It was like “giving Bible studies to the police,” she remarked.
Räsänen, who worked as a doctor before entering politics and is married to a pastor, said it was absurd and shocking to be questioned and says it feels like “Soviet times”.
“I could never have imagined when I worked as interior minister and was in charge of the police that I would be interrogated and asked these kinds of questions in a police station,” said the lawmaker who led the Christian Democratic Party from 2004 to 2015 said.
She said the police also asked her if she was ready to “give up” her writings.
“But I replied that I would stand by what I believe and speak about those things and write about those things as well in the future because it is a matter of belief, not just an opinion” , she said.
Räsänen was charged with three counts of ethnic agitation for statements expressing her beliefs about human sexuality and marriage. Evangelical Lutheran Mission Bishop Juhana Pohjola has been charged with one count of ethnic agitation for publishing Räsänen’s pamphlet.
Finnish prosecutors determined that Räsänen’s previous statements denigrated and discriminated against LGBT people and fomented intolerance and defamation.
The mother of five maintains that her expressions are “legal and should not be censored”.
“I cannot accept that expressing my religious beliefs could mean imprisonment,” Räsänen said in a statement previously released by ADF International. “I do not consider myself guilty of having threatened, slandered or insulted anyone. My statements were all based on the teachings of the Bible on marriage and sexuality.
In November, Pohjola warned that his lawsuits illustrated that “the gospel of Christ is at stake” because of postmodernism and “cancellation culture.”
He said hate speech laws had been unfairly used against him.
“When postmodernism first swept through Western countries, its fundamental core was the denial of absolute truth. The only truth was you have to allow everyone to have their own subjective truth,” Pohjola said. “This hyper-individualism lives on, but now it has a different tone. If you’re against LGBTQ+ ideology, so-called diversity, equality and inclusion, you’re not only seen as old-fashioned… but dismissed as morally wrong. This is how the Attorney General understands his duty to protect fragile citizens and the victims of intolerant and hateful Christians.
Six members of the US Congress have condemned the lawsuits as “attacks on religious freedom”.
Led by Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, lawmakers urged the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to consider such lawsuits when recommending countries that the U.S. State Department should place on a special watch list of countries. who engage in violations of religious freedom.
Last May, professors from Ivy League institutions like Harvard University, Yale University and Princeton University were among the jurists urging USCIRF to pressure the State Department to sanction the Attorney General of Finland for prosecuting Pohjola and Räsänen.
“No reasonable balance between the goods of public order, civil equality and religious liberty can ever support this suppression of the right to believe and to express one’s convictions. Prosecutions are mere acts of oppression,” they wrote.