Law professors from several elite universities in the United States are accusing Finland of “human rights abuses” for prosecuting people there who expressed their biblical beliefs, specifically the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexuality.
The Christian Institute explained one of the prosecutions involves Finland’s former Minister of the Interior Päivi Räsänen, who could face up to six years in prison for publicly supporting the Bible’s teachings, and sharing a Bible verse.
The professors’ comments were published in an open letter at Real Clear Politics.
The signers included Peter Berkowitz of Stanford, Keegan Callanan of Middlebury College, Carlos Eire of Yale, Robert P. George of Princeton, Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard and others.
It’s addressed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“The Prosecutor General of Finland has undertaken criminal prosecutions that will compel Finland’s clergy and lay religious believers to choose between prison and abandoning teachings of their various faiths,” they warn.
They list the case against Räsänen, a member of the Finland’s Parliament, as well as the bishop-elect of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, Rev. Dr. Juhana Pohjola.
Among other offenses, Räsänen wrote a booklet called “Male and Female He Created Them: Homosexual Relationships Challenge the Christian Concept of Humanity,” and Pohjola published it.
“The Prosecutor General’s pursuit of these charges against a prominent legislator and bishop 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 should they, like Bishop Pohjola and Dr. Räsänen, express their moral and religious convictions.”
The lawyers wrote, “These prosecutions constitute serious human rights abuses. They violate Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 10 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, all of which affirm the right of every human ‘to manifest his religion or belief in teaching.’ They likewise violate multiple provisions of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, including its affirmation of the right ‘[t]o write, issue and disseminate relevant publications’ expressing one’s religious beliefs,” they explain.
These cases are not “hate speech,” the confirm.
“No reasonable balance of the goods of public order, civil equality, and religious liberty can ever support this suppression of the right to believe and express one’s beliefs. The prosecutions are straightforward acts of oppression,” they warned.
They call on the U.S. to “respond to the abuses in Finland” as it responded to human rights abuses in China and other nations.
That would include targeting Finnish Prosecutor General Toiviainen with a denial of visas under a charge of “a gross violation of Human Rights.”
“We further request that USCIRF call on U.S. Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen to designate Prosecutor General Toiviainen under the Global Magnitsky Act and related statutes. Executive Order 13818 empowers the Secretary to designate and impose economic sanctions on individuals determined ‘to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse.’ Prosecutor General Toiviainen and any line prosecutors who choose to assist her plainly meet this description,” they said.
The Institute said Räsänen has been charged with three “hate crimes,” including sharing a Bible verse in 2019, comments made on TV in 2018 and a 2004 pamphlet she wrote supporting traditional marriage.
In 2019, Räsänen shared a picture of her Bible open at Romans 1:24-27 in response to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland’s decision to sponsor a local LGBT pride event.
She wrote: “How can the church’s doctrinal foundation, the Bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of pride?”
Räsänen is a medical doctor who is a leader of the Christian Democrats in Finland.
“I do not consider myself guilty of threatening, slandering or insulting any group of people,” Räsänen said in a statement after what she considers “shocking” charges.
“These are all based on the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexuality.”
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