A Finnish court unanimously cleared a Finnish former politician Wednesday of all hate speech charges that stemmed from her sharing a Bible verse on Facebook.
What's a brief history here?
The politician, former Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen, was accused of a hate crime in 2019 after she took to Facebook and shared a Bible verse about homosexuality.
Räsänen shared the verse in criticism of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland over its participation in the Helsinki LGBT Pride events.
The passage, a New International Version translation of Romans 1:24-27, said:
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Räsänen, whose husband was a pastor in the church at the time, captioned the post, "How can the church's doctrinal foundation, the Bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of pride?"
Following the comment, Finnish police announced an investigation as to whether her quote was incitement against sexual and gender minorities — in short, a hate crime.
She later insisted that she was not trying to shame or insult "sexual minorities."
"As I prayed, I was convinced that now is the time to try to wake up the sleeping ones, not to jump out of a sinking boat," she said at the time. "My purpose was in no way to insult sexual minorities. My criticism was aimed at the leadership of the church."
"Only people who recognize their sins need Jesus, the forgiveness of our sins," she added. "This is why we also must have the courage to call homosexual relations sinful."
What are the details?
On Wednesday, Evangelical Focus reported that the Helsinki District Court dismissed all charges against Räsänen by unanimous vote.
In its ruling, the court said that it is "not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts."
Räsänen said she was happy with the outcome following the decision.
“This is the decision I expected," she said in a press conference. "I very much appreciate that the decision recognises the importance of freedom of expression and freedom of religion. I am pleased that the decision appears to be very thorough and inclusive. It draws heavily on the European Court of Human Rights' principles of freedom of expression and also carefully goes through what I have said.”
She added, “Why was there so much international interest? Because they understand that if questioning freedom of expression can happen in reputable Finland, which has been ranked third in the international freedom of expression rankings, why not in any other country?”