Legal scholars denounce prosecution of Finnish Christian MP
Law professors and scholars are calling on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to pressure the State Department to sanction Finland’s prosecutor general for prosecuting a Christian politician who shared her biblical beliefs on sexuality and marriage.
In an open letter published by Real Clear Politics last Friday, professors from Ivy League institutions like Harvard University, Yale University and Princeton University spoke out in defense of Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola. They both face criminal charges related to Räsänen expressing her Christian views on marriage.
Räsänen, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, could face up to six years in prison after being charged with three counts of ethnic agitation related to statements she made expressing her beliefs pertaining to human sexuality and marriage.
Räsänen is the former chair of the Christian Democrats and a former interior minister who has served in Parliament for seven terms. The mother of five, who is married to a pastor and Bible college principal, has been under police investigation since June 2019. She publicly voiced her opinion on marriage in a 2004 booklet on sexual ethics, describing marriage as between one man and one woman. She also expressed her views on a 2019 radio show and tweeted church leadership on the matter.
Prosecutors determined that her previous statements disparage and discriminate against LGBT individuals and foment intolerance and defamation. The mother of five is adamant that her expressions are “legal and should not be censored.”
In their open letter, the professors argue that the prosecution of the politician for her remarks could “compel Finland’s clergy and lay religious believers to choose between prison and abandoning teachings of their various faiths.”