The international religious freedom community was rocked when a parliamentarian was charged with a hate crime for having the audacity to quote the Bible about a controversial topic. One would expect this shocking demonstration of persecution to take place in the Middle East or some dictatorial regime. Actually, this happened in the Nordic nation of Finland, where seventy percent of the citizenry claims Christianity. Päivi Räsänen was faced with the possibility of spending two years in jail because she went against mainstream views of homosexuality. Defiantly, she proclaimed, “In all the charges, I deny any wrongdoing. My writings and statements under investigation are linked to the Bible’s teachings on marriage, living as a man and a woman, as well as the Apostle Paul’s teaching on homosexual acts.”
Thankfully, a Finnish court unanimously acquitted Räsänen and ordered the prosecution to pay her legal expenses. However, that serves as only a small comfort to Christians throughout Finland who now have to live in fear that a similar trial would not turn out as well for them. As in America, those who oppose traditional family values in Finland have no problem utilizing the legal system to punish people with whom they disagree. It’s a terrible tactic known as “lawfare.” The punishment is not the ruling handed down by judges. The punishment is the process itself. When faced with the prospect of being dragged through the court system, many Christians will simply choose not to post that particularly offensive Bible verse, no matter how true it is or how likely they are to ultimately be acquitted.
Päivi Räsänen deserves our highest admiration for having the courage to stand strong throughout this whole haunting ordeal. The Bible is not hate speech, and any law suggesting otherwise is an unjust law that should not be heeded by Christians. We have an obligation to our faith to follow the holy commands of Scripture before following the laws of man, regardless of the consequences. Many before us have given their lives for the cause of Christ. This cowardly abuse of the Finnish justice system is a concerning backward move that every freedom-loving person should wholeheartedly denounce.