Americans, Stand with Päivi Räsänen Against Christian Persecution and Protection of Free Speech or This Could Happen To YOU!
by Michael Roberts
Journalist LAPC #A10450
Licensed Private Investigator # 3589109
I met Member of Parliament, Dr. Päivi Räsänen in Helsinki in November 21, 2019. We discussed what I perceive to be the emergence of state-sponsored persecution of Christians in Europe, under the color of law, but disguised as hate-speech legislation. After our meeting, I conducted an informal interview by email correspondence. I have edited and summarized our discussions below. Päivi has reviewed and verified my summary:
QUESTION: Please introduce yourself?
RESPONSE: I have been a Member of Parliament in our small country, Finland, since 1995. I am also a medical doctor, a former Minister of Interior and party leader, a church council member and mother of five children.
QUESTION: Can you explain the police investigation you are facing?
RESPONSE: The Finnish Police Force is conducting two separate criminal investigations against me. In both cases, I am accused of criminal agitation against a minority group, primarily for quoting the Bible in a Tweet, and for a 15-year old pamphlet.
QUESTION: Is this a case of religious persecution?
RESPONSE: Although my case involves freedom of religion issues, my concern now is for the protection of free expression generally, whether it be religious, secular or otherwise. I fear for my little country of Finland, but also for other countries that will surely follow by persuasive precedent, should this prosecution against me prevail.
QUESTION: How do the allegations against you stack up against the freedom of religion and freedom of expression provisions of that seem to be firmly guaranteed and protected under International Human Rights Treaties?
(See excerpts below this interview).
RESPONSE: These freedoms and rights are threatened when people stop using them. I cannot overstate the importance of using these rights respectfully to express closely-held opinions, confess one’s faith and speak accordingly, without fear of retribution as a consequence of offending someone, should their opinions differ.
QUESTION: I understand that you were asked to delete your tweet from public view. Are you tempted to comply and make the investigation go away?
RESPONSE: If we are legally compelled to remain silent about controversial issues for fear of hurting someone’s feelings, there will no longer be freedom of speech or religion. One cannot be a thinking person who participates in society, without offending someone – that’s life. Open discussion is an essential part of any democracy, there will never be full agreement, but there can be new and better ideas; unless some of the participants are silenced.
QUESTION: Can you give us a more detailed account of the events leading to this investigation?
RESPONSE: The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, of which I am a member, announced its official affiliation with, and hearty endorsement of the Helsinki Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride 2019 event. In response, I published a tweet asking “how the Church’s doctrinal foundation, the Bible, could be compatible with endorsing what that same Bible describes as a shame and sinful, as a source of pride?” I also quoted Romans 1:24-27 and posted a picture of this passage from the Bible.
QUESTION: It is said that ‘context is king’, why did you tweet this message?
RESPONSE: It is important to understand that my tweet, although public, was addressed to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. My intent was not to insult a minority group, but to wake up a stagnating religious institution that seems to be more concerned about political correctness, than adherence to the clear teachings in God’s Word. Although direct and firm, my tweet was in loving concern for the members of my denomination in accordance with Ephesians 5:14:
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
QUESTION: Can you explain the second police investigation?
RESPONSE: The other police investigation has to do with a pamphlet I wrote 15 years ago. The pamphlet is a publication of the Lutheran Foundation Finland from 2004. Previously, the police concluded that there was no need for a preliminary investigation on the pamphlet, as there was no reason to believe that a crime had been committed. My 2004 pamphlet was titled “Mieheksi ja naiseksi hän heidät loi” [“Male and female He created them”]. It discusses ecclesiastical policy, social policy, sexuality and biblical interpretation of marriage.
QUESTION: Can you describe what the police have done so far?
RESPONSE: I was subjected to almost 4-hours of interrogation by police in November 2019 concerning my simple Twitter post. I will be interrogated again in the beginning of 2020 regarding my 15-year-old booklet.
QUESTION: No doubt you have given thought to the social consequences if you are convicted. Where can this lead?
RESPONSE: It is staggering to suppose that these deeply held religious views, if spoken publicly, will be met with criminal prosecution, fines and imprisonment. Notwithstanding, the Prosecutor General, Ms. Raija Toiviainen, has accused me of defaming the LGBT community and violating their human dignity. According to her, I am guilty of incitement to hatred under Section 10 of the Criminal Code for defaming or insulting a minority.
REFERENCE: “A person who makes available to the public or otherwise spreads among the public or keeps available for the public information, an expression of opinion or another message where a certain group is threatened, defamed or insulted on the basis of its race, skin colour, birth status, national or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation or disability or a comparable basis, shall be sentenced for ethnic agitation to a fine or to imprisonment for at most two years”.
QUESTION: Do you believe the Finnish law is in conflict with international law?
RESPONSE: Freedom of religion is in principle strongly guaranteed and protected both in our Constitution and in the International Human Rights Treaties. However, the prosecutor General has concluded that I have defamed a minority. That was not my intention. I have only used my freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Depending on the decision of the Prosecutor General on whether to prosecute or not, the cases will be handled by the district court.
QUESTION: How does the Lutheran church of Finland view scripture?
RESPONSE: In Finland, the General Synod, which is the highest decision-making body of the Church, has an important legislative function, the drafting and presenting Church law for approval or rejection by the Finnish Parliament. The “Church Act” of Finland establishes that:
“All doctrine must be examined and evaluated according to God’s Holy Word”.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: If I compare the legally codified mandate in the Church Act, with the Lutheran church’s endorsement of LGBT Pride event, it seems to me that the Finnish Lutheran Church is suffering from cognitive dissonance, that is, holding two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values, or participates in an action that goes against one of them.
QUESTION: What does this mean for the Finnish Justice System?
RESPONSE: If one objectively considers the facts, we can only conclude that our contemporary, politically-correct culture is breaking our justice systems. How can we boast about the post-war protections for human rights on the one hand, while persecuting those who hold traditional values and stand on the authority of God’s word on the other? It is illogical, it is illegal, and it is dangerous. We need only look to contemporary regimes that persecute free speech activists for defying systemic national censorship, to see where we are going; unless reason prevails.
QUESTION: Do you think Prosecutor Raija Toiviainen’s motives are sincere?
RESPONSE: I do not want to evaluate the motives, but I do think that as these cases have so deeply to do with basic freedoms and rights guaranteed by our Constitution and Human Rights Treaties, it is bad that the media has not always reported correctly about these cases. For example, in an interview with Finland’s primary newspaper, it was falsely claimed that both myself and the apostle Paul thought that homosexuals “should be killed”. This has since been edited to “deserve to die”; neither version is true. The Romans 1:28 reference “those who do such things deserve death” actually speaks of spiritual death and this scripture contains an exhaustive list that describes, in one way or another, every person who has ever been born including me, except one, Jesus Christ, who came to save everyone on that list, should they accept His gift.
QUESTION: What does this prosecution mean for people of faith?
RESPONSE: I am afraid that criminal investigations such as mine will lead to self-censorship among Christians. If expressing Bible-based views are criminalised, it will follow that possessing or distributing Bibles will also be criminalised, as they already are in some countries today.
QUESTION: What do you think about people who choose an LGBT lifestyle?
RESPONSE: My purpose was not to insult. My decision not to endorse a certain lifestyle in no way reduces my love for the individuals who practice the same. My criticism was aimed at the leadership of the Church.
QUESTION: How do you feel when someone ridicules your Christian worldview and lifestyle?
RESPONSE: If someone expresses an opinion that goes against my faith or conscience, it does not mean that I have been threatened, defamed or insulted pursuant to the provisions of our Criminal Code. Also in the small country of Finland, we must be able to disagree and express our disagreement. Otherwise, we will have a totalitarian system with only one correct view.
QUESTION: Do you encourage people to defy laws with which they disagree?
RESPONSE: Unreasonable defiance is not something I would ever encourage. However, I have a moral and fiduciary obligation to my voters and to the free world. I will defend and use these freedoms irrespective of these investigations, criminal trials, or politically correct expedience. I encourage all who value these freedoms to do the same.
QUESTION: What is your message to the world?
RESPONSE: I invite you all to stand with me in the global defense of traditional protections for freedom of expression.
QUESTION: What is the moral of your story and experience in these matters?
If we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything!
—- INTERVIEW END —–
Contact details for Dr. Päivi Räsänen: https://www.paivirasanen.fi/en/
Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes:
“…Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
and; Article 19 establishes that:
- “Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
- Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
- The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may, therefore, be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others;”
About the Author:
Michael Roberts is a Licensed Private Investigator and Journalist with the Los Angeles Press Club. He specialises in investigations related to internet crimes, human rights abuses and exposing fake news and smear campaigns. Some of Michael’s investigative case studies can be viewed here.