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5/9/2024 Finland (International Christian Concern) — Dr. Päivi Räsänen, member of the Finnish Parliament and former Minister of the Interior, will face criminal charges for a third time, the Finnish Supreme Court has announced.

The decision follows two previous trials, one by the Helsinki District Court in 2022 and the Helsinki Court of Appeals in 2023, where Dr. Räsänen was unanimously found innocent of “agitation against a minority group.” The agitation she was accused of concerned public statements she made affirming the traditional, biblical interpretation of gender and sexuality. Her case will now be heard by the Supreme Court of Finland.

Despite this develop, Dr. Räsänen remains steadfast in defense of her Christian conscience.

The former government Minister said in a statement, “In my case, the investigation has lasted almost five years, has involved untrue accusations, several long police interrogations totaling more than 13 hours, preparations for court hearings, the District Court hearing, and a hearing in the Court of Appeal.

“This was not just about my opinions, but about everyone’s freedom of expression. I hope that with the ruling of the Supreme Court, others would not have to undergo the same ordeal. I have considered it a privilege and an honor to defend freedom of expression, which is a fundamental right in a democratic state.”

The case against Dr. Räsänen began back in 2019 after making a tweet where she questioned the leadership of the Finnish Lutheran Church, her own denomination, for its sponsorship of the LGBT “Pride 2019” event. The criminal investigation also led the prosecutor’s office to confront her with a 20-year-old pamphlet on biblical gender and sexuality she co-wrote with Lutheran bishop, Juhana Pohjola.

Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International, the organization helping with Dr. Räsänen’s legal defense, said in a statement, “This is a watershed case in the story of Europe’s creeping censorship. In a democratic Western nation in 2024, nobody should be on trial for their faith – yet throughout the prosecution of Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola, we have seen something akin to a ‘heresy’ trial, where Christians are dragged through court for holding beliefs that differ from the approved orthodoxy of the day.”

Despite two earlier acquittals, Finland’s legal system is unique in allowing “not guilty” verdicts to be appealed to a higher court. Finland’s Supreme Court, the highest court in the country, has not announced when the trial will be held. Dr. Räsänen said she is willing to take her case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary “to defend free speech and freedom of religion.”

(Photo: ICC President Jeff King, far left, meets with Dr. Päivi Räsänen and her husband at the 2022 International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, D.C.)