by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The trial of two Finnish Christians for publicly stating mainstream religious teachings that reserve sex only for heterosexual marriage is heading towards a judgment scheduled for March 30. The case could end up hitting Finland’s Supreme Court and even the European Court of Human Rights, which means its outcome could affect the rights of religious believers and political dissidents across the world.
Member of Parliament Paivi Rasanen and Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola have been prosecuted now for nearly three years after Rasanen tweeted a picture of Bible verses in June 2019. Complaints about this tweet led to her prosecution under Finland’s “hate crimes” laws.
The government investigation of Rasanen’s tweet uncovered a theological pamphlet she wrote and Pojhola published in 2004, for which they have both been charged. The booklet states classic Christian teachings about sex as reserved only for marriage, and defining marriage as comprising only one man and one woman for life.
“The teachings concerning marriage and sexuality in the Bible arise from love to one’s neighbor,” Rasanen said in a Feb. 17 statement. “This case is about whether it is allowed in Finland to cite the Bible and to agree with it in topics that go against the tide and challenge the current ethos and thinking.”
Oral arguments in the case wrapped up this week on Valentine’s Day. On Feb. 17, a Finnish court also heard a related request from the prosecutor to force a Finnish radio show to take offline a two-minute audio clip of Rasanen speaking about marriage in 2019.
“Being criminally charged for voicing my deeply held beliefs in a country that has such deep roots in freedom of speech and religion feels unreal,” Rasanen told the Federalist.