11/18/2021 Finland (International Christian Concern) – On November 10, 6 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter condemning Finland’s treatment of Dr. Päivi Räsänen, a Christian legislator being prosecuted for her faith, and a Lutheran bishop who published a Christian pamphlet Dr. Räsänen wrote.
The letter, sent to the U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), said, “We are writing today concerning infringements on religious freedom in Finland. The Finnish government is currently prosecuting well-known Christians for publicly supporting long-standing Christian doctrine… [and] are specific examples of the Finnish government’s violation of freedom of religion.”
The letter goes on to say, “These criminal prosecutions raise serious questions regarding the extent of Finland’s commitment to protecting freedom of religion for its citizens… Additionally, punishing citizens for remarks made on social media and a booklet that has been in the public eye for more than 17 years is a clear abuse of government power. These actions by the Finnish government will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on free speech in Finland and the West.”
In 2019, Dr. Räsänen, a practicing Lutheran, tweeted in response to her denomination’s support for an LGBT pride event. Her tweet asked how a church could affirm homosexuality and still be consistent with the Bible, including a link to Romans 1:24-27. In 2004, Dr. Räsänen authored a pamphlet making the case for a traditional definition of marriage that was published by Lutheran bishop Reverend Dr. Juhana Pohjola. Finland’s Prosecutor General, after repeatedly interrogating Dr. Räsänen, formally charged her with three charges of incitement against ethnic groups in April 2021.
This is not the first time Finland has been criticized for the malicious prosecution of Dr. Räsänen and Reverend Dr. Pohjola. 10 academics from various U.S. universities wrote to USCIRF in May expressing their concern over Finland’s violations of international religion freedom, calling the prosecutions “straightforward acts of oppression.”
The congressional letter, sent by Representative Chip Roy and signed by Representative Doug Lamborn, Representative Paul Gosar, Representative Jody Hice, Representative Michael Cloud, and Representative Byron Donalds, finished by stating, “Citizens should never be forced to choose between a fundamental freedom – their faith – and legal persecution. We strongly condemn the actions of the Finnish government to persecute Christians for speaking their beliefs and urge USCIRF to take these actions into consideration when recommending which countries should be added to State Department’s Special Watch List…”
For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: firstname.lastname@example.org.