A Christian member of Parliament in Finland is on trial, fighting for freedom of speech and religion in court on Monday because she posted an image of a Bible passage to social media which condemns homosexuality.
Päivi Räsänen has been under investigation since 2019 for her Bible verse post and is charged with three counts of hate speech against homosexuals.
Prosecutors said her comments violated the equality and dignity of homosexuals.
But Räsänen defends her post saying it was a direct challenge to the Evangelical Lutheran Churches Affiliation for a Helsinki gay pride event, not a criticism of people who are living a homosexual lifestyle.
“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,” she explained. “The teachings concerning marriage and sexuality in the Bible arise from love to one’s neighbor, not from hate towards a group of people.”
The court’s decision will come in one month and while Räsänen hopes to be acquitted from all charges, she says the court’s decision could have dire consequences for all believers in her country.
“The possible sentence for the crime of ethnic agitation would be up to two years imprisonment or a fine,” she explained. “But an even more serious problem would be the resulting censorship: an order to remove social media updates or a ban on posting. The sentence would open the floodgates to a ban on similar publications and the threat of modern book burnings.”
“According to my knowledge, the court has to for the first time take a stand on whether it is legal or not to cite the Bible,” Räsänen continued.