Freedom of Religion on Trial in Finland

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Päivi Räsänen is a member of the Finnish Parliament, a former minister of the interior, a public speaker and the mother of five grown children.

She faces a heavy fine and two years in prison for quoting the Bible.  In response to the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s affiliation with the Helsinki LGBT Pride event, she posted the Bible passage from Romans 1: 24-27 which condemns homosexual behavior.

Finnish prosecutors stated that the use of the word “sin” could be harmful, and alleged that Ms. Räsänen’s comments were made to cause intolerance, contempt, and hatred toward homosexuals.

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” Leviticus 18:22

Upcoming Finnish trial questions if quoting the Bible is a hate crime - FISM TV

But couldn’t the prosecutor’s remarks cause intolerance, contempt and hatred toward Ms. Räsänen?  If criticizing another person’s beliefs or behavior is a hate crime, then isn’t she the victim of a hate crime?

The court prosecutors worried that the word “sin” could be harmful.  One supposes they mean harmful to one’s self-esteem.  And, indeed, the list of sins in Romans 1: 24-32 is meant to make you feel bad about yourself.

From a Biblical perspective, acknowledgment of sin, followed by repentance, leads on to salvation.  In other words, feeling bad about your behavior is, in some cases, a good thing.  It’s not only homosexual behavior that is condemned in Romans I.  The extended passage condemns all manner of sins including idolatry, deceitfulness, envy, gossip, slander, and disobedience to parents.

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