Finnish Christian MP called for police interrogation as investigation about tweet quoting Bible continues
Päivi Räsänen, the leader of the Christian Democrats, could be accused under Section 10 of the Criminal Code of Finland for “ethnic agitation”. A fine or prison are contemplated for this crime.
HELSINKI · 25 OCTOBER 2019 · 09:54 CET
The police investigation against Päivi Räsänen, the Christian politician in Finland who posted a message on social media criticising the position of the Lutheran Church on LGBT matters, continues.
Räsänen is an experienced politician and leader of the Christian Democratic Party. She is a committed Christian believer and a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF, historic Protestants) – of which her husband is a pastor.
Now the police has informed her that she will be called to an interrogation whose specific date is not known yet, but that is expected to happen “soon”. Räsänen told Evangelical Focus: “I cannot see that I would have committed a crime”. And added: “We are living strange times as evaluating the Church leads to a police investigation”.
A TWEET ON BIBLE, CHURCH AND THE ‘LGBT PRIDE’
In June, Räsänen posted a message on Twitter and Facebook in which she criticised the fact that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland had become an official partner of the 2019 LGBT Pride events. She was “shocked” at this decision because “our Church Act states that ‘All doctrine must be examined and evaluated according to God’s Holy Word’”, she has told Evangelical Focus. “Pride events celebrate acts and relations that the Bible calls sinful and shameful”.
The ELCF is called a “national church” and plays an active role in the public sphere and has the right to collect church tax from its membership that is largely secularised but contains an active minority of conservative revival movements.
In the message posted on 17 June, the Christian politicians quoted a text from the New Testament: Romans 1:24-27. “Based on these Scriptures, I asked in my tweet that led to the police investigation: ‘How can the church’s doctrinal foundation, the Bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of pride?’”.
WHAT THE CRIMINAL CODE SAYS ABOUT “INSULTS”
Räsäne now risks to be declared guilty of going against the Section 10 of the Criminal Code of Finland, which refers to “Ethnic agitation (511/2011)”.
This section says: “A person who makes available to the public or otherwise spreads among the public or keeps available for the public information, an expression of opinion or another message where a certain group is threatened, defamed or insulted on the basis of its race, skin colour, birth status, national or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation or disability or a comparable basis, shall be sentenced for ethnic agitation to a fine or to imprisonment for at most two years”.
BIBLE VERSES READ DURING PARLIAMENT SESSION
In October, during a Parliament session debate on the ELCF Church Act, Räsänen used her turn to speak to read aloud the same verses from the the New Testament that had opened the police investigation.
“I did this because I thought it was necessary for the parliamentarians to pay attention to the fact that although there were some minor changes proposed to the Church Act, the majority of the Act stayed the same”, Räsänen explains.
“The Act still prescribes that the Lutheran Church confesses the Bible-based Christian faith. This means that the Parliament has not only allowed the Church to confess its faith in its doctrine and action, it actually prescribes it to do so”.
‘CALM MIND ABOUT THE OUTCOME OF THE PROCESS’
In September, Räsänen told Evangelical Focus that she had “a completely calm mind about this [the investigation]. I am going to use my freedom to believe and to speak accordingly, whatever the outcome of this process may be”.
But she said she was worried that such cases opened against Bible-believing Christians would severely restrict freedom of speech. “Many, especially the young people, are afraid that if you are labelled as a Bible-believing Christian, it will hinder your career and social acceptance”.
Read the full interview with Päivi Räsänen here: “The more Christians keep silent on controversial themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech gets”.