Finnish official faces jail for voicing beliefs about marriage

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HELSINKI, Finland — A Finnish member of parliament could be jailed for expressing some of his Christian beliefs about marriage and human sexuality.

According to the legal defense group Alliance Defending Freedom International, Dr. Paivi Rasanen has been charged with three criminal offenses and faces two years in prison. Rasanen, a Lutheran, also served as Finland’s interior minister from 2011 to 2015.

The doctor, mother and grandmother are accused of “hate speech”. ADF International says the charges stem from information about marriage and human sexuality that Rasanen included in a pamphlet she wrote in 2004 for a Christian foundation; comments she made on radio in 2019 and on television in 2018; and a tweet in which she criticized her church’s decision to sponsor the “Pride 2019” LGBT event.

This tweet was linked to an Instagram post showing a photograph of Romans 1:24-27, according to multiple outlets.

A verdict in the Rasanen case is expected this month. Reports indicate that Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola could also be sentenced to prison for allowing a pamphlet authored by Rasanen to be posted on his church’s website. The International Lutheran Council opposed the accusations, stating that the booklet confirms historic Christian teachings on human sexuality.

More than two thirds of the Finnish population (67.8% of the 5.5 million inhabitants) are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Thirty percent of the population claim no religious affiliation. Finland legalized same-sex “marriage” in 2017.

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