By Jonathon Van Maren
This month, a politician in a Western nation will be going on trial for quoting the Bible in public.
This is not an exaggeration. On January 24, Finnish parliamentarian Päivi Räsänen will face charges for defending the Bible’s definition of marriage in a booklet, in a TV debate, and on social media. The media accuses the politician, pastor’s wife, mother of five and grandmother of seven of being a potentially dangerous criminal, with Finland’s Prosecutor General accusing her of making statements that are “derogatory and discriminatory against homosexuals” that “violate their equality and dignity.”
I’ve interviewed Räsänen on several occasions — for a profile in First Things last year describing her ordeal, as well as several interviews for LSN as her case progressed. Räsänen has been interrogated by the police for hours on several occasions over her public defence of Scriptural sexual ethics, and prosecutors have brought three criminal charges against her. She faces up to two years in prison if convicted. The impact on religious freedom around the world would be catastrophic.
Alliance Defence Fund International has been supporting her case for the past two years, and recently met up with her at Finland’s Parliament to discuss what she is going through. She is a warm, lovely person who served as a doctor for 10 years prior to her political career. Her ethics have always been central to her, and she strongly opposed abortion throughout her medical career due to her opposition to taking human life. She carried these ethics with her when she was recruited into politics.
In politics, she was a member of nearly every committee in Parliament. She served as chair of the Christian Democrats from 2004 to 2015, and from June 2011 to May 2015 she was Minister of the Interior of Finland, responsible for migration and internal security as well as church affairs at the Ministry of Education and Culture. She was, in short, a prominent person who engaged with policy on every level.