HELSINKI — A lawmaker and pastor’s wife in Finland who was already being probed by police over a social media post in which she questioned the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland’s partnership with a Helsinki Pride event is now also facing a preliminary “incitement” investigation over a booklet that she wrote 15 years ago entitled “Male and Female He Created Them.”
The Office of the Prosecutor General of Finland issued a press release on Monday noting that while Päivi Räsänen’s 2004 publication — which remains online — “takes a stand on ecclesiastical policy, social policy, sexuality and marriage in regard to the Bible and its interpretation,” Prosecutor Raija Toiviainen believes the text potentially constitutes a hate crime.
“Previously, the police concluded that there was no need for a preliminary investigation, as there was no reason to believe that a crime had been committed,” the statement outlines. “The prosecutor general, who was requested to re-evaluate this matter, in assessing the balance between the basic and human rights of the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion and non-discrimination, reached a different conclusion than did the police.”
“According to the prosecutor general, there is reason to believe that because of the defamation of homosexuals by the violation of their human dignity, Ms. Räsänen is guilty of incitement to hatred against a group,” it explains. “Therefore, there will be a preliminary investigation in this matter.”
As previously reported, Räsänen’s husband is a pastor with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, which is the largest denomination in the country, having an estimated three million members. However, that figure has been on the decline recently, falling one to two percentage points each year, according to Evangelical Focus.
Räsänen is known for defending life and marriage, standing against abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality. She had written a letter to the denomination this year expressing her disappointment in their decision to back Helsinki’s same-sex pride event.
“The pride event’s ideological goal is to take pride in the type of relations that are described as being against God’s will,” Räsänen wrote, according to Finland broadcasting outlet YLE. “Homosexual relationships, like those relationships outside of marriage, are described in the Bible as sinful and shameful.”
At least 500 members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland dropped their affiliation over the matter.
In June, Räsänen, a member of the Christian Democrat Party (which is different from the Democratic Party in the United States), also tweeted her views about the unscriptural advocacy.
“How can the Church’s doctrinal foundation, the Bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of pride? #LGBT #HelsinkiPride2019 #Romans 1:24-27,” she wrote, while sharing a photograph of the biblical text, as it directly addresses homosexuality.
However, in September, it was announced that Räsänen had been placed under government investigation for her post, being accused of “incitement against sexual and gender minorities.”
According to Evangelical Focus, the pastor’s wife and lawmaker was questioned by authorities for approximately four hours on Nov. 1, as she told the outlet that “the police let me understand that they shall not close the case.”
She also told the Christian Broadcasting Network that she is “worried that this case, the criminal investigation, might frighten some Christians to hide and to keep silent.”
“[T]ruth usually comes with a price. One often has to pay for following truth, confessing truth and speaking it. Instead, however, people are tempted to sell the truth, to acquire advantage for oneself by yielding to popular, false ideas and by distorting the truth. Yet the Bible exhorts, ‘Buy the truth, and do not sell it!'” Räsänen stated during a seminar in 2013, according to text posted to her website.
“Martin Luther handled the issue of ‘consequences of faith’ aptly: ‘If you believe, you speak. If you speak, you must suffer. For faith, confession and cross belong together and are the part of a true Christian,'” she continued. “If we neglect this right, the space for speaking will eventually get smaller. The more we keep silent about the teachings of the Bible on the painful issues of our time, the more powerful is the rejection.”
“If there are not enough skiers on a ski track in a snowstorm, it gets difficult to proceed. We need people who ski before us.”