Finland Explicitly Puts the Bible on Trial

Finland Explicitly Puts the Bible on Trial January 26, 2022

On Monday the trial began in Finland for Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola and Member of Parliament Dr. Päivi Räsänen, charged with hate crimes for teaching what the Bible says about homosexuality.

I have blogged about these two Christians and the charges against them  (here,  here, here, and here).  Way back in 2004, long before Finland legalized same sex marriage in 2017, Dr. Räsänen, a medical doctor and former Minister of the Interior, wrote a 24-page booklet on the Bible’s teachings about sexuality, including a section on homosexuality.  Bishop Pohjola’s church, now in fellowship with the LCMS, published it.  Dr. Räsänen was also charged for tweeting a Bible verse in response to the liberal state church being a sponsor of an LGBTQ parade and for participating in a 2019 debate on the subject.  Three years ago, over a decade and a half after the publication of the booklet, the two were charged for inciting hatred against homosexuals.  Finally, their case has been brought to trial.

Joy Pullman of the Federalist has been covering the case and the trial.  She reports that the hearing on Monday took a strange twist.  Instead of focusing on the two defendants, who could be sentenced to a fine of 10,000 euros and two years in prison, the prosecutors, in effect, put on trial the Bible itself.  From her article, Finnish Government Puts Christianity On Trial, Calls The Bible ‘Hate Speech’:

In the trial’s opening arguments, which will resume on Feb. 14, Finnish prosecutors described quotations from the Bible as “hate speech.” Finland’s top prosecutor’s office essentially put the Bible on trial, an unprecedented move for a secular court, said Paul Coleman, a human rights lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom International who is assisting in the Finns’ legal defense and was present during Monday’s trial.

“The prosecutor began the day by trying to explain that this case was not about beliefs and the Bible. She then, and I’m not kidding, she then proceeded to quote Old Testament Bible verses,” Coleman said in a phone interview with The Federalist after the trial concluded for the day. “Trial attorneys, Finnish trial attorneys who have been in and out of court every day for years, said they didn’t think the Bible had ever been read out like that in a prosecution.”

Never before has a Finnish court had to decide whether quoting the Bible is a crime.

The prosecutors then interrogated the two about their theology, which became an occasion for them both to proclaim the Gospel!

“The booklet stands on the Christian understanding of human being,” Pohjola said in court, according to an on-site Finnish reporter, Danielle Miettinen. “Sin affects every human being to the core. But the grace of God is also universal. He wants to forgive the sins of every human being.”. . .

The booklet Rasanen wrote, called “Male and Female God Created,” also affirms Christian teachings about the preciousness of every single human life to God. Christians also believe in complete human equality in both the sinfulness of every human, and God’s forgiveness of every sin. Rasanen and Pohjola have repeatedly publicly affirmed that they are not motivated by hate, but by love in stating the historic, orthodox Christian faith.

“The saving gospel of Jesus Christ has been given to us in the Bible,” Rasanen told reporters outside court Monday, according to Miettinen. “The cross of Christ shows the greatest love for both heterosexuals and homosexuals.”

The trial will resume on February 14, appropriately enough, St. Valentine’s Day, named after a martyr who was also a defender of marriage.  The word “martyr” means “witness.”

 

Photos:

Päivi Räsänen by Eurooppalainen Suomi ry, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Bishop Dr. Juhana Pohjola,  via The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland

 

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