Christian Finnish MP persecuted over tweet questioning homosexuality

There are two kinds of martyrs: red martyrs who shed their blood for the faith and white martyrs who suffer societal persecution.

Last week, I was able to hear a presentation from a courageous woman experiencing the latter. Dr Päivi Räsänen is a white martyr of the 21st century. In her presentation, hosted by The John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family, Dr Räsänen shared what the last five years of persecution for her Christian faith have been like.

But first, let me give you a picture of Dr Räsänen. She is an impressive woman.

She has built a career. She studied medicine at the University of Helsinki 40 years ago. Since 1995, she has served as a member of the Finnish Parliament. From 2004 to 2015, she was the chairwoman of the Christian Democrats party. From June 2011 to May 2015, she was the Minister of the Interior. During the current term, Päivi is a member of the Social Affairs and Health Committee and a deputy member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

She has also built a family. She and her husband have been blessed with five children and 12 grandchildren.

Dr Räsänen is also a devout Christian and, as mentioned above, it is for her faith that she is being persecuted. 

It started with a tweet.

In 2019, Dr Räsänen posted a tweet questioning her church’s official sponsorship of the Helsinki LGBTQ “Pride 2019” event. She quoted a passage from the Bible, Romans 1:24-27, which clearly denounces the misuse of one’s sexuality. Three criminal charges were filed against her over this tweet, a 2019 radio debate, and a 2004 pamphlet on the church’s teaching on sexuality.

The Helsinki District Court issued a unanimous acquittal, but the prosecutors appealed that decision to the Appellate Court. This also unanimously acquitted Päivi from all charges. However, the Prosecutor General didn’t stop there. She asked the Supreme Court for permission to appeal the unanimous acquittal of the Court of Appeal. On April 19,  the Supreme Court confirmed that Dr Räsänen would have to stand trial a third time.

This is freedom of speech on trial and persecution of the Bible and Christianity through Dr Räsänen. 

In a free and democratic society, everyone should be allowed to share their beliefs without fear of censorship. Criminalizing speech through so-called hate-speech laws poses a grave threat to democracy, since it shuts down important public debates and threatens freedom of speech itself. 

Court-backed censorship is already thriving in some countries, including China. In her presentation, Dr Räsänenreferenced having met a Chinese official in charge of religious affairs who told her that in China the citizens can believe whatever they want in their mind, but it is “necessary to restrict the freedom to express your faith if it increases tensions in the society.”

Attending this presentation was China scholar and treasurer at the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family, Steven W. Mosher. who responded to Dr Räsänen’s account of this interaction. He said:

“That is exactly the position that the Left is taking here. But it won’t end there. As in China, controlling speech is only a waystation on the road to controlling thought itself. There are sayings in Chinese that are apropos here –‘Kill the one to warn the hundred’ or ‘Kill the chicken to warn the monkey.’ In other words, pick a high profile target, isolate and punish them in order to terrorize the rest of the population into silence.       

It’s not just China. Look at the case in England where the court ruled that Genesis 1:27 is "incompatible with human dignity". Look at how far the prosecution is pushing Dr Räsänen’s case, despite two unanimous acquittals. It would be foolish to assume that this kind of censorship won’t make its way to the United States. This is why each case where Christianity is put on trial matters, no matter where in the world. Why a Supreme Court case happening in Finland matters. Within the United States, we haven’t faced a trial quite like this yet within our borders, but insofar as we are involved in global politics, we are facing it with Dr Räsänen.

As Mr. Mosher further stated: “These are strange times that we find ourselves in. We have gone from the sin that dare not speak its name, to the sin that will not be silent, to the sin that wants to silence us.”

The world has radically changed in such a short period of time. Dr Räsänen observed that the faith of the Finnish people in basic Christian doctrines and beliefs has dramatically collapsed.

But radical changes in culture have been happening in the United States as well. Let’s look at a few examples from President Joe Biden, in just the last few weeks:

  • Biden making the Sign of the Cross while listening to pro-abortion remarks as if he were praying, or blessing, for the destruction of the unborn.
  • Biden exalting individuals suffering from gender dysphoria, and the whole of the LGBT movement, on “Transgender Day of Visibility” which coincided with Easter Sunday.
  • Biden destroying women’s sports, by unveiling Title IX “special rights” for men competing in women’s sports.

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If the LGBT movement can successfully persecute Christianity in one country, it won’t stop there. It will continue to spread, hoping to destroy the Christian roots that are deeply embedded in our world.

Reflecting on this, it’s worth noting Catholic Cardinal Robert Sarah’s comment on the loss of a Christian culture: “A West that denies its faith, its history, its roots, and its identity is destined for contempt, for death, and disappearance.” Dr Räsänen’s case is just one piece of a cultural death caused by the persecution of Christianity.

Though it seems to border on an abuse of the system, the prosecution continues to swim upstream with Dr Räsänen’s case, persevering despite two unanimous decisions in Dr Räsänen’s favour. Despite their best effort, she has so far been unanimously vindicated. Of course, it helps that the Finnish Constitution, European Convention of Human Rights, and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights all back up her defence of freedom of speech.

As she pointed out, “Amid all these challenges we are facing, we need to understand that international law provides a robust framework for freedom of speech and is on our side … This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Through all of this, Dr Räsänen maintains a positive demeanour and a kind attitude even towards those who would prefer to see her in jail. She repeatedly affirmed that she felt called to be a witness to the faith in this way.

“But I am confident and calm,” Dr Räsänen stated, “I feel that this whole process has been in God's hand. And I feel that this has been my calling. And I have also felt that it has been a privilege to fight for these freedoms, freedom of speech and freedom, faith and also this biblical truth.”

Who is in the right: the Helsinki prosecutor-general or Päivi Räsänen? Tell us in the comments box below. 

Chiara McKenna is New Media Specialist at the Population Research Institute.

Image credit: Päivi Räsänen / ADF International   


Showing 3 reactions

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  • David Page
    commented 2024-05-10 11:08:55 +1000
    Isn’t intent an important part of law and morality? Doesn’t the rhythm method imply intent? What am I missing here?
  • Paul Bunyan
    commented 2024-05-07 09:46:35 +1000
    Many people have interpreted those verses to prohibit contraception (and consider only the “rhythm” method to be morally acceptable).

    Yet we never rarely see right-wing politicians cry out to make contraception illegal (except in the US).
  • Chiara McKenna
    published this page in The Latest 2024-05-07 09:19:59 +1000