Appeal Hearing in High-Profile Finnish Freedom-of-Religion Case


Päivi Räsänen, the Finnish member of Parliament who has been prosecuted for stating that homosexual acts are sinful, had her hearing before an appeals court on August 31 and September 1.

Räsänen won her first case, but the Finnish government appealed its defeat.

In the appeal hearing, the prosecutor insisted that any statement of opposition to homosexual activity is a condemnation of homosexuals and therefore constitutes hate speech. The prosecutor repeatedly pushed Räsänen to recant her view of biblical sexuality, as expressed in a 2004 pamphlet. She declined.

Lutheran bishop Juhana Pohjola, on trial with Räsänen for publishing her pamphlet, stated, “Condemning sinful deeds does not mean questioning a person’s worth and dignity. These are completely different things. The prosecutor is propagating an understanding that is fully against the Christian understanding.”

He added, “The very idea of religious freedom is that you are free to teach the Christian message, even if someone finds it offensive, but then you can exercise your right not to listen.”

A decision is not expected until next year. For more details, see this report by ADF International, which is defending the plaintiffs, or this news report by Christianity Today.

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