Law professors from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and other respected institutions are calling on the US to intervene in the prosecution of a Finnish MP over her views on marriage and sexuality.
As previously reported in ET, Päivi Räsänen is facing up to six years in prison for ‘inciting hatred’ after expressing biblical views on marriage and sexuality in tweets, a booklet, and on TV.
The group of legal academics has written an open letter to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, calling for pressure to be brought against the Finnish authorities.
If the prosecution goes ahead, they argue, it will ‘compel Finland’s clergy and lay religious believers to choose between prison and abandoning teachings of their various faiths’.
They added that the prosecution ‘sends an unmistakable message to Finns of every rank and station: no one who holds to the traditional teachings of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and several other religions on questions of marriage and sexual morality will be safe from state harassment’.
The group of law professors said, ‘These prosecutions constitute serious human rights abuses’ and they ‘are straightforward acts of oppression.’
Päivi Räsänen – who is also Finland’s former minister of the interior – has been under investigation ever since 2019 when she objected to the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s decision to sponsor a LGBT pride event.
At the time, she used social media to post a photo of a Bible, opened at Romans 1:24-27, along with the comment, ‘How can the church’s doctrinal foundation, the Bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of pride?’
She is also charged with ‘hate speech’ for comments she made defending traditional marriage in a 2004 pamphlet, and for comments made on a 2019 radio show.
Räsänen, who is a medical doctor, mother of five, and grandmother of six, has defended her right to freedom of speech and the right to voice honestly held religious beliefs.
In a statement, she said, ‘I cannot accept that voicing my religious beliefs could mean imprisonment. I do not consider myself guilty of threatening, slandering, or insulting anyone.
‘My statements were all based on the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexuality … and I will defend my right to confess my faith, so that no one else would be deprived of their right to freedom of religion and speech.’