The Trials of Päivi Räsänen

Nov 20, 2023 by


Blessed is the man who perseveres in the trial,” declares the Epistle of James. Finnish Member of Parliament Päivi Räsänen should count herself doubly blessed this week. She has now persevered through two trials over more than four years of legal troubles brought on merely for expressing her Christian faith. Following both trials, she has not only been acquitted, but also has been a shining example of a modern Christian life fearlessly lived.

On Tuesday, a Finnish Court of Appeal unanimously found MP Räsänen not guilty under Finland’s “hate speech” laws. If the decision stands—there is still a possibility of appeal to Finland’s Supreme Court—it will represent a bulwark for Christians and all people of good will wishing to live out their faith and contribute to social conversations over contentious issues.

Räsänen’s legal saga began on June 17, 2019. On that day, she tweeted a criticism of her church’s participation in a Helsinki Pride parade. She also included a picture of verses from her home Bible. Her case has come to be known as the “Bible Trial.”

Because she is a long-serving member of Parliament and a former Minister of the Interior, her tweet drew the ire of Finnish officials. While an initial police investigation found nothing criminal in her tweet—even writing that sounds absurd—the prosecutor’s office re-opened the matter to comb through her entire history of public utterances. The Helsinki prosecutor came back with an allegedly offensive pamphlet published in 2004 and a live radio interview from 2019. Räsänen was then charged with three counts of “hate speech” under a criminal code provision originally related to war crimes.

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