Finnish Christian leaders Päivi Räsänen and Juhana Pohjola have been acquitted of hate speech charges for the second time, with the court upholding their right to free speech.
The trial, initiated by a state prosecutor, attempted to punish the two for expressing their beliefs about homosexuality based on biblical teachings.
The court’s decision was seen as a triumph for free expression, with international efforts supporting their defense. (Trending: Photos Released Of Cocaine Found In White House)
FREE SPEECH VICTORY IN FINLAND🚨Tweeting Bible verses is NOT a crime. The Helsinki Court of Appeal has dismissed all “hate speech” charges against MP Päivi Räsänen & Bishop Juhana Pohjola.
— Alliance Defending Freedom (@ADFLegal) November 14, 2023
“I am deeply relieved. The court has fully endorsed and upheld the decision of the district court, which recognized everyone’s right to free speech,” Räsänen stated.
“It isn’t a crime to tweet a Bible verse, or to engage in public discourse with a Christian perspective,” she added.
“The attempts made to prosecute me for expressing my beliefs have resulted in an immensely trying four years, but my hope is that the result will stand as a key precedent to protect the human right to free speech.”
“You can cite the Bible, but it is Räsänen’s interpretation and opinion about the Bible verses that are criminal,” prosecutor Anu Mantila stated.
“A guilty verdict would have criminalized Christianity, silenced Christians, stifled religious freedom across Europe, and catalyzed further attacks on the foundations of Western Civilization,” Rep. Chip Roy, (R-TX) said.
He added, “I thank God for this verdict, for Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola’s courage in defense of the Gospel, and for the efforts of Alliance Defending Freedom International and other groups like Family Research Council for their hard work and advocacy on this case.”
Räsänen emphasized the potential deterrent effect on freedom of expression and religion, as prosecutors may still seek a third decision from the Supreme Court of Finland.
“If writings based on biblical teachings were to be condemned, that would mean a serious restriction of freedom of religion. It is natural that this would raise concerns among Christians both in Finland and internationally,” Räsänen pressed.