Absolutely wonderful news out of Finland: Dr. Päivi Räsänen has been acquitted of all charges. Those of you following this case will remember that Räsänen had been put on trial for publicly articulating the Christian view of marriage and sexuality in a case with potentially dire consequences for Christians across the West. I interviewed Räsänen on her case for both First Things and The European Conservative, if you’re interested in the details. In the meantime, here is the press release she sent out to day on her victory:
Member of Parliament, Dr. Päivi Räsänen:
The Helsinki District Court has acquitted me of all the three charges
The Helsinki District Court has today acquitted me of all the three charges. The ruling of the court was unanimous. I am relieved, happy and grateful to God and to all the people that have supported me. The ruling was what I expected – Not for a second did I believe that I had committed anything illegal in my writings and statements.
The bishop of the Mission Diocese, Juhana Pohjola, was prosecuted because he was responsible for publishing and making my pamphlet accessible on the internet. I am thankful that the court acquitted him also.
I am grateful for having had this chance to stand up for freedom of speech, which is an essential right in a democratic country. This has been my honor. I greatly appreciate that the court recognized in its ruling the importance of free speech. I hope that this ruling will help prevent others from having to go through the same ordeal.
This court process and the decision are historical with regard to freedom of speech and religion. The court has had to for the first time to take a stand on whether it is legal or not to cite the Bible and to agree with it. The judges have had to weigh the relations between the fundamental rights and the criminal law and the interrelationship between different fundamental freedoms.
The interest in this case rises from the concern that if this kind of questioning of free speech is possible in a country like Finland, which has a good reputation regarding free speech internationally, the same is possible anywhere. In the latest Rule of Law Index, Finland ranked 3rd. It is alarming that in a country that ranked so high in the Rule of Law Index, I have been criminally charged for voicing my deeply held beliefs that are based on classical Christianity.
This process has been long, it has lasted for three years, and it has not only consumed time and resources on my part, but also of the police and the court. On the other hand, I have felt joy about being able to speak about the Gospel and the atonement of Jesus during these couple of years.
I had hoped that the prosecutor would have settled for this ruling, but today afternoon I heard that the prosecutors will very likely appeal to the Court of Appeal. I am ready to defend freedom of speech and religion in all necessary courts, also in the European Court of Human Rights. I want to encourage others to use these basic rights also.