“The haters pounced on us when our TV started reaching the street people,” “my church is being hounded,” “the haters and the prosecution have tarnished my good name!” – Pastor Pawel Chojecki said yesterday in the closing speech at his trial. The Court of Appeals in Lublin has postponed the verdict in the case of Pastor Chojecki, editor-in-chief of Go Against the Tide TV. The verdict is expected to be announced on June 5 at 1 p.m. The pastor is on trial for words uttered during sermons and in programs aired on the TV station he’d founded. Among other things, the prosecution has accused him of insulting the religious feelings of Catholics by, for example, calling the Fatima apparition a “phantom.” During yesterday’s fourth session of the Court of Appeals, the closing speeches were delivered. We present Pastor Pavel Chojecki’s speech in its entirety.

Pastor Pawel Chojecki’s closing speech

Your Honor, I was rather silent in the courtroom for most of this trial. The very fact that the prosecutor’s office of the Republic of Poland is dragging a pastor of repute through the courts – and at the age of over 60, I was reaching 60 at the time – is a huge insult to me, to my church and to all Protestants in Poland. We do not accept such treatment of religious minorities.

I didn’t go to any other church to destroy any objects of worship or anything else, I didn’t interrupt anyone’s religious activities. I said what I am obligated to do by the Word of God in my Protestant church and on Protestant television.

The Constitution of the Republic guarantees my freedom of speech, and the role of the organs of justice, the judiciary, is to protect the wronged. Therefore, I want your Honor to know that in this case it is not these people who are wronged – it is my church that is wronged, it is my church that is being dishonored by them. At every public meeting we have, their representatives distribute “dangerous sect” leaflets. They pour fecal matter on [our church headquarters], Mr. Bieganowski was accused of this. They harass a police officer who belongs to our church at his workplace, saying that he is a dangerous person because he belongs to a sect. The auxiliary accuser Bieganowski was prosecuted in this case. The prosecutor’s office hopefully knows about all this. And yet I am the one sitting as a criminal on the defendant’s bench.

Please understand, Your Honor, my emotions. My only crime in life is a couple of traffic fines. I have a good reputation, which is necessary for my profession, as does the High Court. And these people and the prosecutor’s office have tarnished my good name! How can I remain silent! What is going on here is a denial of justice, because they are the ones who turned people against me, they even did it to my grandson, calling him “the son of Beelzebub.” Those who are sitting here threatened me with death. My daughters, they threatened in public to pour acid on them. The address of my residence was pointed out. Where is one of these victims? He even came, when we changed our address, to film where we live, and put it on the Internet, which is a crime, a violation of home privacy. This is how we have been honored for years. It’s us, a religious minority, Protestants in Poland… Pastors said how many bricks they take out of their church buildings.

Never, in my wildest expectations – even knowing that the Polish state is not a state of just, after ’89 – it never even occurred to me that I would sit on the bench of the accused like a criminal, for serving Christ faithfully. So saying that I offended any of these people is a mockery of justice.

As far as my words are concerned, Your Honor can see our television, in which we host Catholic professors, ordinary Catholics, there was even a Catholic bishop with us. And with all of them we talk in the spirit of civic respect, everyone is happy, etc. But please note, as was raised by Counselor Wroblewski, the haters pounced on us when our TV started reaching out to the street people – not to professors, not to theologians. I delivered to the High Court a letter of a murderer, sent from prison. Nothing appealed to him. He read books. He listened to various sermons, there was a pastor in court. But he turned on Go Against the Tide TV and Pastor Chojecki – and it changed his life. The High Court has it on file. I speak to such people. And that I said “fart”? That I said “phantom”? That I said “dung”, quoting the apostle Paul? That is my crime! No honest person  would agree with this.

And on the most important issue. We are talking about religion. I think it is God who is the object of religion and worship of Protestants as well as Catholics, Orthodox, etc. Please point out to me one sentence, one word, where I said something against God. As for my intentions, I’m not going to prove them, because my whole life is proof of my intentions. Jesus said: “Are you unable to judge? Judge by the fruits.” See how he lived his life, how he raised his children. Three of my children, university and postgraduate studies, a doctor sits here, a researcher at UMCS. This is my achievement. My personal one. I already have grandchildren. And please see what is happening before the court. Are they criminals, haters, people who attack someone? This is the fruit of my service to Jesus, because of which I am sitting here. Thank you.