A verdict is expected in the next few weeks in a trial that will determine whether posting a Bible verse online is a crime.
A report from Decision Magazine explained that the fight developed in Finland, where a legislator, Paivi Rasanen, was accused of “agitation against a minority group” by stating her biblical beliefs.
In a trial, she was acquitted of the charges months ago, but prosecutors demanded that an appeals panel deliver to them a favorable decision in the case, insisting that she must be punished.
This week, the Helsinki Court of Appeal finished a two-day hearing on the case that was triggered by her online statement about the Bible, as well as her part in creating a brochure that talks about the Bible.
The Decision report explained, “In 2019, Räsänen—a medical doctor and mother of five—posted a tweet in which she asked the leadership of her church why they would sponsor the Helsinki Pride parade, and she attached a photo with verses from Romans 1. Years earlier in 2004, she had written a pamphlet on marriage and sexuality titled ‘Male and Female He Created Them.”’And during a radio program, she also upheld the biblical view of marriage and sexuality.”
Police, not about the tolerate those beliefs, did an investigation that included interrogating her for 13 hours.
Then Finland’s government prosecutor accused her of three crimes. Bishop Juhana Pohjola also was charged.
Both were acquitted last March.
Prosecutors, during the recent appeals court hearing, tried to skate the thin line between religious rights and their desire for censorship.
They said “the authors of the Bible are not indicted,” but Rasanen was because of her adherence to biblical standards.
“You can cite the Bible, but it is Räsänen’s interpretation and opinion about the Bible verses that are criminal,” they claimed.
Paul Coleman, of ADF International, said the substance of the state’s claims was that prosecutors wanted her to deny her beliefs.
“Dragging an individual through a grueling criminal trial simply for expressing their religious beliefs is not a marker of democracy and ‘progress,’” he said.
In a press conference after the trial, Räsänen said: “It has been a long two days at the court of appeals. When I was voted into Parliament in 1995, I expected that I would face many challenges. But I never would imagine that I would face a criminal trial for posting a Bible verse and sharing my Christian convictions online.”
WND reported when 16 members of Congress released a letter calling on U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain and U.S. Ambassador to Finland Douglas Hickey to oppose the “egregious and harassing” by Finnish authorities of a Christian member of their parliament.
The 16 House members said in the letter the Räsänen’s case “is dead set on weaponizing the power of Finland’s legal system to silence not just a member of parliament…but millions of Finnish Christians who dare to exercise their natural rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion in the public square.”
It continued, “It is abundantly clear—the process is the punishment.”
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