HELSINKI (LifeSiteNews) – The prosecutor general of Finland announced Friday that she intends to appeal the unanimous March 30 acquittal of a Christian member of parliament and a Lutheran bishop who faced charges for defending Christian marriage.
Finnish MP Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola were charged with “ethnic agitation,” or inciting hate against a protected minority, last year by Finnish Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen in response to a book by Räsänen published in 2004 by Pohjola.
The book, Male and Female He Created Them: Homosexual relationships challenge the Christian conception of humanity, defended the traditional Christian definition of marriage. Additional charges were brought against Räsänen for a tweet she published criticizing the Lutheran Church of Finland’s participation in a “pride” parade and for speaking out against homosexual “marriage” on Finnish radio in 2019.
“The prosecutor’s decision to appeal the acquittal verdict may lead to the case going all the way to the Supreme Court, giving the possibility of securing precedent protecting freedom of speech and religion from all Finnish people,” said Räsänen in a statement Friday.
“Also I am happy that this decision will lead to the discussion of the teaching in Bible [sic] continuing in Finnish society. I am ready to defend freedom of speech and religion in all necessary courts, and as far as the European Court of Human rights.”
Toiviainen expressed dissatisfaction with the court’s decision in the days following the trial. Reacting to the court’s claim that false information was provided for the indictment served Räsänen and Pohjola, her office said, “There is nothing false about the charges.” According to Toiviainen, the arguments presented by Räsänen and Pohjola treated homosexuals as inferior to heterosexuals.
Reacting to the charges brought against her, Räsänen said, “The prosecutor claims in this appeal that I said in the 2004 pamphlet that ‘all homosexuals are and should be regarded as inferior’; in fact, I have never said that and I do not hold that view now or in the past … On the contrary, in the pamphlet, I state that ‘According to the Christian concept of humanity, everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, is equal and of equal value.”
SIGN this petition calling on Indian legislators to protect Christians from unjust anti-conversion laws.
Christians are being attacked relentlessly by violent Hindus in India, but some Indian states are compounding this persecution by jailing those accused of converting Hindus to Christ.
Using "anti-conversion laws", eight Indian states have outlawed any attempt by minority faiths such as Christianity to convert members of the majority Hindu population.
Please tell Indian legislators that their anti-conversion laws must be scrapped.
Christians know that, like St. Paul who himself was jailed (2 Tim 2:8-10), we cannot remain silent in announcing Christ to unbelievers (Acts 5:17-26), but our Indian brothers and sisters in faith are being imprisoned on trumped up charges when they have not violated any of these unjust laws.
Legislators in eight Indian states have created vaguely-worded "anti-conversion laws", leaving the door wide open to minorities being accused of "allurement" or "coercion" when sharing their faith with Hindus.
The wording often states that "no person should convert or attempt to convert, either directly or indirectly, any person from one religion to another by use of force or by allurement or by any fraudulent means".
The states of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand have already introduced these laws, with several more expected to follow.
Legislators have ignored the fact Christians are entirely opposed to forced conversions or deception, instead bowing to the demands of Hindu extremists worried that Christ is winning the hearts of Indians long maltreated in the inhumane caste system.
The false allegations of coercion made against Christians have resulted in the widespread persecution of believers across the country.
SIGN and SHARE this petition calling on Indian legislators to protect Christians from unjust anti-conversion laws.
As K.V. Turley reported on LifeSiteNews, one reason Christians and other minorities are persecuted is because of the growing popularity of the nationalist Hindutva ideology.
This ideology demands a Hindu-only India, resulting in sustained violence against those who would lead Hindus to Christ.
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, then-General Secretary of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India, said as early as 2018 that even members of the ruling Barathiya Janata Party (BJP) are "using false accusations to incite hate. And nobody in their party or in the government is revoking their problematic statements.”
The latest anti-conversion bill is set to be passed in Karnataka state, where Christians will face jail terms of up to 10 years if found guilty of converting others by alleged "force", "fraudulent methods", or as a result of marriage.
Karnataka has seen a significant increase in Hindu attacks on Christian priests, pastors and laity, with the BBC reporting at least one violent incident in 21 out of 31 districts.
Please SIGN to help almost 30 million Christians, who make up less than 2.5% of the Indian population, live in peace.
Right-wing Hindu radicals are known to barge into houses or churches where prayer sessions are conducted and demand the identity of those in attendance.
If Hindus are in the audience, conversion charges are pressed and the pastors are arrested. The onus of proof is on the pastors, catechists or priests.
Another issue is that Catholic priests, brothers and nuns teach, educate and empower the dalits (untouchables), the tribals and the poor. These then stand up for their rights, which is not pleasing to many politicians.
This petition will be sent to the Indian ambassadors to the USA and Canada, the Ambassador at Large of the United States for International Religious Freedom, the High Representative of the EU's Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the president of India's ruling BJP party.
Indian legislators must be convinced to stop treating minorities with such contempt - speak up on their behalf now by signing the petition.
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**Photo Credit: Video screenshot of a statue of Christ about to be destroyed by authorities in Karnataka on February 14, 2022**
Paul Coleman, a lawyer from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International who is defending Räsänen and Pohjola, told the Washington Times that “Dragging people through the courts for years, subjecting them to hour-long police interrogations, and wasting taxpayer money in order to police people’s deeply held beliefs has no place in a democratic society. As is so often the case in ‘hate speech’ trials, the process has become part of the punishment.”
In a piece for Fox News, Republican Congressman Chip Roy and Sean Nelson of ADF International said that “The prosecutor’s decision to appeal the case is not only absurd. It paints a clear picture of what is to come for people of faith if the West continues barreling down a path that is increasingly hostile to free speech and, especially evident in this case, Christian belief.”
“Fortunately,” they conclude, “the ridiculous crusade against Räsänen and Pohjola has failed – for now. Rather than silencing them, the prosecutor has turned them into international voices for liberty, eager to tell the world about their fight against persecution.”
Räsänen won international support last year in the face of her trial. Roy was one of several congressmen who in November of last year wrote a letter to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) demanding that action be taken against Finland for the persecution of Räsänen and Pohjola. A similar letter was drafted by several U.S. senators last January.
In Hungary, over 3,000 people demonstrated in front of the Finnish embassy in Budapest in support of Räsänen. Demonstrations also took place in front of the courthouse in Helsinki. She also received support letters from representatives of various Christian denominations, including Catholics, Lutherans, Reformed, Pentecostal, and Unitarian leaders.