Trusting in God Amid Difficulty | Persecution

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Trusting in God Amid Difficulty

Judgement expected in case of Finnish MP Paivi Rasanen, on trial for posting Bible verses

03/29/2022 Finland (International Christian Concern) – All she did was post a tweet questioning the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland’s decision to become an official sponsor of the 2019 Helsinki Pride Day. The thought never crossed Rasanen’s mind that she would be facing a criminal trial for her tweet a few years later.

Rasanen is a member of the Finnish Parliament, the former Interior Minister of Finland, and a vocal proponent of biblical teachings and values. In her 2019 tweet, Rasanen included a picture of a Bible opened to Romans 1:24-27. She is currently undergoing a criminal trial, the first session of which occurred on January 24, 2022 followed by another proceeding in February and a final decision expected on March 30, 2022.

“In all the charges, I deny any wrongdoing. My writings and statements under investigation are linked to the Bible’s teachings on marriage,” Rasanen said in a statement after the January 24 trial. In the statement, Rasanen emphasized her respect for human dignity, including of those she disagrees with. “I categorically reject the Prosecutor’s characterization of my beliefs. I stress that…all human beings are created in the image of God and have equal dignity and human rights.”

International Christian Concern’s Director of Advocacy had an opportunity to speak with Rasanen in the days leading up to the trial. In the interview, Rasanen shared that she never imagined that her tweet would lead to a criminal trial that could land her in prison for up to two years.

Because of her tweet, she was interrogated by the police several times and was even asked to recant her beliefs and writings. Rasanen was asked to recant her statements during a police interrogation, but refused.

At the conclusion of the police investigation, the Finnish Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen insisted on pressing charges against Rasanen, despite the fact that the police found no wrongdoing.

Toiviainen has reportedly stated that it is acceptable to cite the Bible, but it is illegal to agree with what it says. She has apparently gone as far as to compare the Bible to Mein Kampf – Adolf Hitler’s racist and bigoted manifesto.

Rasanen argues that she is simply standing strong on her convictions and on her rights under the Finnish Constitution to speak freely in accordance with her religious beliefs. In her original tweet, Rasanen was actually espoused the same biblical tenants on sexuality, gender, and marriage still officially held by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.

Rasanen’s case has received a range of reactions from the public and media. Overwhelmingly, people have supported her for various reasons ranging from freedom of speech to freedom of religion. Even atheists have stood up for Rasanen and publicly supported her right to express her sincerely held religious beliefs. Rasanen has also face sharp criticism for her stance but condemnation of such attacks against her have been lacking.

As a result of Rasanen’s case, Finnish Christians and church leaders live in fear when delivering their sermons, preaching the same content and values as always but now looking over their shoulder whenever their words begin to become reminiscent of speech that prompted the arrest of a member of Parliament.

Their fear of persecution for standing up for biblical values is based on an unfortunate reality. Nevertheless, even in the face of these challenges, Rasanen insists that it is time for the faithful to stand up for their beliefs, to speak up for their values, and to advocate for their rights.

In the days leading up to today, Rasanen has maintained a calm mind and a confident spirit about being securely in the will of God. She believes that this episode will serve God’s purposes and give an opportunity for the gospel to be heard all over the world. She maintains her belief that Finland is still a democratic country with strong guarantees in its constitution for freedom of religion and speech. Rasanen believes that the outcome of her case will not just have significant results for Finland’s future, but for all western Europe and the free world.

“If Prosecutor General Toiviainen’s attack on the freedom of religion and speech are successful, the ramifications will be wide ranging,” said Matias Perttula, ICC’s Director of Advocacy.  “Everybody deserves the right to practice their religion without harassment, bullying, and intimidation. Rasanen has the right, under the Finnish Constitution and international human rights law, to practice her faith. It is to be hoped that the Finnish courts will uphold this right in the coming months. It is baffling that according to the Finnish Prosecutor General, her own bigoted comments about the Bible are allowed, but Mrs. Rasanen is not allowed to express her views about marriage, gender, and sexuality – it is absolutely preposterous.

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