A four-year legal battle in Finland, dubbed “the Bible trial,” has ended with a second acquittal of a member of Finland’s Parliament who faced charges of “hate speech” for sharing her Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality in a 2019 social media post.
Paul Coleman, executive director of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International, announced Tuesday via email that Päivi Räsänen, who has served in Parliament since 1995, and co-defendant Bishop Juhana Pohjola, have been exonerated of all charges under the Finnish Criminal Code’s “War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity,” including “agitation against a minority.”
The Helsinki Court of Appeal stated in its ruling: “The Court of Appeal accepts the reasoning and conclusions of the district court’s judgment. The Court of Appeal has no reason, on the basis of the evidence received at the main hearing, to assess the case in any respect differently from the District Court. There is therefore no reason to alter the final result of the district court’s judgment.”
“I am deeply relieved,” Räsänen stated in a press release issued by ADF International, who represented her in the court proceedings. “The court has fully endorsed and upheld the decision of the district court, which recognized everyone’s right to free speech. It isn’t a crime to tweet a Bible verse, or to engage in public discourse with a Christian perspective. The attempts made to prosecute me for expressing my beliefs have resulted in an immensely trying four years, but my hope is that the result will stand as a key precedent to protect the human right to free speech…