“The best response to disagreement is more debate, not censorship”
Finnish politician Päivi Räsänen was interrogated by the police for five hours on his booklet on Bible and sexuality. “I categorically deny that my writing might be hate speech or defamation or slander of minorities”.
HELSINKI · 03 MARCH 2020 · 16:23 CET
Päivi Räsänen, a Member of the Parliament of Finland (the ‘Suomen eduskunta’), responded to questions of the police in Helsinki on March 2.
The Christian Democrats party politician spent around five and a half hours in the Pasila police station. It was a preliminary hearing of an investigation led by the General Prosecutor of Finland with regard to a booklet Räsänen wrote back in 2004 and published with the title “Male and female He created them – Homosexual relationships challenge the Christian concept of humanity”.
According to the general prosecutor, the views expressed could constitute a hate crime against LGBT groups. In 2011, Article 10 of the Penal Code was amended to add sexual orientation to the “ethnic groups” which benefited from a special legal protection. Other countries have followed a similar legal trend in the last years.
A CHANCE TO EXPLAIN HER CHRISTIAN VIEWS
“I felt I was given the opportunity in all peace and quiet to explain everything essential regarding my booklet and its background”, Räsänen said in a statement sent to Evangelical Focus. “Deep down, the booklet is not simply about the defence of marriage between a man and a woman, but about how and on what basis we are eternally saved through belief in the Bible, the Word of God”.
“I categorically deny that my writing might be hate speech or defamation or slander of minorities”, Räsänen said, because “the Christian view of human beings is based on the inherent and equal dignity of all persons”.
“The teachings concerning marriage and sexuality in the Bible arise from love, not hate. The core message of faith, i.e. grace and atonement, is founded on the Christian view of humanity seen in creation, on the one hand, and the great fall, on the other”.
Throughout the interrogation, the politician said “I concretely experienced what it means to be upheld by prayer”.
CHRISTIANS SHOULD USE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
The open investigation against the politician’s Christian views will not change the way she expresses her faith, Räsänen said.
“Regardless of the final outcome of this criminal investigation, I intend to continue to use the freedom of religion granted to me in the Constitution of Finland and in human rights agreements in order to share the teachings of the Christian faith and to encourage others to do so as well”, Räsänen says.
In an interview in September 2019, Räsänen already called fellow Christians not to fall into the trap of self-censorship. “The more Christians keep silent on controversial themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech gets”, she said.
PROSECUTOR GENERAL CASE CONTINUES
On February 12, the head of publications of The Luther Foundation Finland, also responded to the police on the content of the booklet, which could constitute a crime of “ethnic aggression against a group”.
At the end of March, the case will be brought “to the General prosecutor for consideration of charges, which will lead to prosecution or acquittal”, Räsänen explained.
TWITTER CASE ALSO OPEN
The Christian politician, who served in the past as Minister of the Interior, is also being investigated in a parallel case. It has to do with a tweet Räsänen posted in June 2019 in which she quoted the Bible on homosexuality to criticise the participation of the Lutheran Church in LGBT Pride events.
After a controversy in the media, an investigation against Räsänen was opened. In November 2019, she responded for around four hours to questions of the police on “main concepts of the Christian faith”.
“MORE DEBATE, NOT CENSORSHIP”
“It is a baffling, surreal experience to be ordered into a police interrogation over the teachings of the Bible and in a country which has such deep roots in the freedom of speech and of religion”, the MP says.
“I never thought I would face a criminal investigation for sharing my deeply held beliefs. It came as a total surprise. As a Christian and a democratically elected Member of Parliament, I have often heard things with which I disagree – sometimes very strongly. At times, I have felt insulted. I believe the best response to this is more debate, not censorship”.