The Court of Appeals in Lublin once again adjourned today the hearing in the case of Pastor Pawel Chojecki, editor-in-chief of the Against the Tide TV, who is on trial for words including insulting the religious feelings of Catholics. The next court session will be held on May 22 at 12:30 p.m. The court rejected Pastor Chojecki’s request to call Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Minister Michał Dworczyk as witnesses. At today’s hearing, however, the three pastors called as witnesses: Pastor Henryk Skrzypkowski member of the Presidium of the Baptist Church Council and pastor of the Baptist Church in Chełm, Pastor Ireneusz Dawidowicz from the Baptist Church in Białystok, psychologist, co-founder and vice-president of the Association “Towards Good Hope” and Jerzy, pastor of the home church, former Catholic priest. They all testified, demonstrating that Pastor Chojecki’s words fit within the accepted framework of pastoral activity and the religious freedom in force in Poland. After leaving the court, Pastor Chojecki commented: “Protestants in Poland are threatened with such trials for speaking the truth about Jesus. This must stop! We are going for freedom!”.
The judge did not allow a live broadcast of the hearing, but agreed to record it. By the decision of the court president, only twenty people, including journalists and reporters, were allowed to enter the courtroom as audience members. Because of this limit, a journalist from the Lublin Courier, among others, was not allowed into the hearing. A great many people who wanted to support the pastor with their presence gathered in the corridor and in front of the court building. Support for the pastor was expressed in slogans such as: “Freedom of speech for everyone,” “Support Pastor Chojecki,” and “We‘re going for freedom” placed on T-shirts and banners.
Pastor Paul Chojecki, in a brief speech after leaving the court, said:
“The three pastors today had the opportunity to present the gospel of free salvation, show the superstition and darkness in our nation, show the errors and lead people to the truth of God’s Word. This has begun. […] My only ‘crime’ is that I succeeded in preaching the gospel in Poland. And for this ‘crime’ – if Poland considers it a crime – I am ready to suffer any consequences. I hope you are too.”
The gathered audience responded with loud applause.
A pastor of the New Covenant Church in Lublin is on trial for words – a few sentences from sermons and other programs aired on the web TV he runs – that a group of hecklers and the Law and Justice prosecutor’s office did not like. He was charged with insulting the religious feelings of Catholics, insulting Catholic objects of religious reverence, praising the initiation of a forward war against communist North Korea, and insulting the Polish Nation and the President of Poland.
Recall that the court of first instance sentenced Pastor Chojecki to eight months of restriction of liberty in the form of community service. In addition, the pastor would have to pay the costs of the proceedings in the amount of nearly PLN 21,000. Four appeals have been filed to the verdict. In Pastor Chojecki’s defense, the law firm of legal counsel Adam Wroblewski, the law firm of attorney Andrzej Sawicki and the law firm of attorney Andrzej Turczyn filed an appeal. Prosecutor Katarzyna Urban also filed an appeal, seeking a prison sentence.
Referring to accusations of insulting the religious feelings of Catholics, Pastor Chojecki points out that as a Protestant he criticizes the dogmas of the Catholic Church, pointing out that they are incompatible with the Bible. As for the accusations of insulting Catholic objects of religious reverence, it must be emphasized that these allegations are also about words – there was no real insulting of objects of Catholic reverence. The pastor addressed all the allegations in the statement.
Who really is pastor Paweł Chojecki?