October 28, 2019
Päivi Räsänen, Member of the Parliament of Finland
Summons to a police interrogation raises concerns about limiting the freedom of religion and free speech
The police have continued the criminal investigation regarding the statement I wrote on June to the social media. I was summoned to a police interrogation that will be conducted this Friday, November 1, 11.15 am at the Pasila Police Station, Helsinki. The criminal offence I am suspected of is “agitation against an ethnic group” (5500/R/53318/19). According to the Criminal Code of our country, the punishment is a fine or imprisonment for at most two years.
I am surprised that the investigation continues on this that case has deeply to do with freedom of religion and speech. I do not see I would have committed a crime when, on the basis of the Bible, I took a stand on the actions of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The essential part of the tweet I published on June 17 was a citation from the New Testament, from the Epistle to the Romans, passage 1, verses 24-27. Holding a position of trust in the Church, I was shocked when the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland announced its official affiliation to Helsinki Pride 2019. According to our Church Act “all doctrine must be examined and evaluated according to God’s Holy Word”. Pride events celebrate acts that the Bible calls sinful and shameful. Based on these Scriptures, I asked: How can the church’s doctrinal foundation, the Bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of pride?”
A also appeal to the fact that I recently found out about a criminal complaint that was made this August about a pamphlet I wrote 15 years ago. Although the content of the pamphlet was the same as my tweet, no police investigation was started. This was explained by the argument that “on the basis of freedom of thought, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, the pamphlet presents legitimate moral conceptions and valuations.” The pamphlet that was published in 2004 can be found here: https://www.lhpk.fi/j…/aamuntahdet/29_mieheksijanaiseksi.pdf .
If expressing Bible-based views were considered to have the constituent elements of agitation against an ethnic group, also spreading the Bible or offering an access to it should logically be criminalized. I point out that the Parliament has unanimously accepted the Church Act, according to which the Lutheran Church confesses Bible-based Christian faith. This means that the Parliament has not only allowed the Church to confess its faith in its doctrine and action, it actually prescribes the Church to do so. A law reform on the Church Act is at the moment being handled in the Committees, but its proposed contents is on this part the same as the current law.
Irrespective of the outcome of the criminal investigation, I am going to use the freedom of religion, which is strongly guaranteed both in our Constitution and in the International Human Right Treaties, and publicly speak about the teachings of God’s Holy Word. I encourage others to do the same.
Criminal Code, Section 10: Agitation against an ethnic group
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.