January 27, 2022

Finland Is Cross With the Bible

A parliamentarian and Lutheran bishop are on trial for quoting the Bible and upholding the Christian view of marriage.

The ticklish thing about censorship is that it has become synonymous with authoritarianism. Censorship now occurs at the slightest perceived offense. In the United States, the Big Tech monopolies are the arbiters of online speech. A user can get kicked out if he or she expresses a “wrong” (a.k.a. conservative) opinion. Censorship fosters a modern-day witch hunt that begins online but usually ends with doxxing by self-righteous busybodies.

This phenomenon, known as “canceling,” has ruined lives, and no one is spared from its purge. As National Review’s Elyssa Koren puts it, “After all, who among us could survive having almost two decades’ worth of personal speech examined on the basis of the extraordinarily low bar of ‘insulting’ content?”

But as bad as this authoritarian digital fist is, it could always be worse.

In Finland, Päivi Räsänen, a member of parliament and grandmother of six, and a Lutheran bishop, Juhana Pohjola, are on trial for quoting the Bible and proclaiming the teachings of Christianity on marriage and sexuality.

Räsänen is a deeply devout Christian who was charged with three counts of “ethnic agitation” for so-called hate speech against the LGBT community, which consisted of a pamphlet written in 2004 on sexuality and marriage, a social media post quoting Romans 1:24-27, and comments made on a radio show. “According to my knowledge, the court has to for the first time take a stand on whether it is legal or not to cite the Bible,” says Räsänen.

Pohjola is charged with aiding and abetting Räsänen by printing her pamphlet. Not flinching one bit, Pohjola articulated his position: “I confess the God given dignity, value and human rights of those who identify themselves as homosexuals but at the same time call homosexual acts sinful and in discordance with the created order and the will of God as found in the Bible. We are all called to live according the good order of creation. According to the Christian view sexual life is meant to be in the confines of marriage between one man and one woman.”

The freedoms at stake here are religion and speech. Both Pohjola and Räsänen know they have not committed any crime. On the first day of trial, which was on Monday, the two Christians had a golden opportunity to share their faith with the court and profess the gospel.

The ramifications for this decision could have international consequences. Leaders from countries across the globe have weighed in on this injustice. From the U.S., Republican Senators Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, James Lankford, Jim Inhofe, and Mike Braun published a statement warning, “It could open the door for prosecution of other devout Christians, Muslims, Jews and adherents of other faiths for publicly stating their religious beliefs.”

The tragic truth is that Finland is a “Christian” country. On its flag is a blue cross on a field of white. The white represents the snowy landscape of Finland, the blue for its lakes, and the cross for Christianity. Unfortunately, Pohjola and Räsänen are fighting against a culture that has been so secularized that it is not really recognizable as a Christ-following nation. The bottom line is that the Scriptures are on trial; Pohjola and Räsänen are merely the scapegoats.

This legal scourging of free speech and freedom of religion is not limited to Finland. Canada has also sought to outlaw religious teachings by signing into law a bill outlawing LGBTQ+ “conversion therapy.” This law also is one that could be considered a “secular blasphemy law,” to borrow from Rubio and Co., because it definitely undermines the teachings of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

The U.S. isn’t much better, but if we’re not careful, it could quickly get much, much worse.

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