– The foundational rights are threatened when people stop using them. Everyone should be free to express their deeply held beliefs about important issues without fear of censorship or criminal sanctions – says Päivi Räsänen, former Minister of the Interior of Finland who is facing us to two years in prison for publishing Bible verses. We are presenting the most important parts of the interview as well and the full interview in the video.
You are accused of hate speech, because of a photo of Bible verses that you posted online. My first question is, can you tell us exactly what happened and what was your first reaction to the prosecutor’s actions? Is it the first time that something like this has happened in Finland?
Yes, it is the first time that it has happened in Finland. I now face three criminal charges for the same “crime”. […] I have to say that being criminally charged for voicing my beliefs feels very unreal and absurd. The decision of the prosecutor general was surprising, it was even shocking. I do not think I have committed any crime. And in all these cases the question is about the Bible’s teaching about marriage and sexuality. […]
The pastor of my church (his name is Paweł Chojecki), has also been taken to the court because of his activity online. The prosecutor claims my pastor has offended the religious feelings of Catholics. Now, having taken your case and my pastor’s case, how do you think Christians should act in today’s society? Do you think saying the truth should be limited only to what doesn’t make people feel bad?
We are living in times when the effect of Christian culture on the society is narrowing. The basic teachings of the Christian faith and Bible are no longer the views of the majority. This is what happens in Finland. Strong changes have happened since my childhood in the Finnish society. And I think that we are facing similar kind of challenges in other western countries also.
The foundational rights are threatened when people stop using them. I think that everyone should be free to express their deeply held beliefs about important issues without fear of censorship or criminal sanctions. It is especially important for us, Christians, who are called to lift up Jesus and the Bible. […]
What exact role has the Bible in your life?
Christian faith and the Bible are in the core of my whole life and work. I believe that every human being in the image of God and therefore the human value is always absolute. […] And when you ask about what role the Bible has in my life… I read it every day and I think that the core message is about Jesus, why He came and what He has done for all of us. […]
Are you planning to take actions to make the Finnish government modify the law so that other people will not fall into a situation like yours?
I think that it will be easier to answer this question after we see the result of the court. It is coming at the end of this year. The freedom of speech and religion – they are fundamental rights recorded in the Finnish constitution and, moreover, also in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But, however, the breaking of the Christian worldview is visible both in the societal discussions and in the decision making. […] It is important to remember that there is no universally agreed definition of hate speech. In fact, also in Finnish legislation, we don’t have that concept. But there are some forces that would like to have this concept also in Finnish legislation. […]
How would you encourage especially young Christians to spread the truth and the Gospel?
[…] I want to encourage Christians to use their internationally guaranteed right and speak up according to their faith. Democracy entails an inclusive political system, in which all groups can participate and all voices are heard. Regardless of the final outcome of my case, I myself intent to use my rights and trusting that the Bible is God’s Word and it is a solid foundation for the gospel to bring forth new life and win hearts. I want to remind that God wants to use us, Christians, to spread the message of the crucified, resurrected Jesus and that is why it is so important to also speak about the Bible and strengthen the trust upon the Bible.