While many Americans lament the limitations that some leftist politicians seek to impose on the First Amendment, it is clear that the U.S. continues to provide a far more robust protection of free speech than many other Western nations.
One troubling example involves Paivi Rasanen, a resident of Finland who has been engaged in a legal battle since 2019 over her decision to share Bible passages on social media.
Reports indicate that she reacted to her church’s decision to become a sponsor of a local LGBT pride event by sharing relevant scriptures on the platform then known as Twitter.
Rasanen, who has been a member of the Finnish Parliament for nearly three decades and previously served as the nation’s minister of the interior, was soon facing a criminal inquiry based on her alleged hate speech. Authorities reportedly interrogated her for 13 hours and, after finding two other supposed infractions from her past, decided to charge her with three counts of agitation against a minority group.
More than a year ago, a district court panel unanimously decided to acquit her, ruling at the time that it “is not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts.”
That was not the end of her ordeal, however, since the country’s justice system allows prosecutors to continue pursuing charges even after they have been thrown out in court. An appeal of the district court’s acquittal is now underway and Rasanen is scheduled to once again appear before a judge later this month.
Finnish Christians continue to be the targets of prosecution from Finland’s government for expressing their sincere religious views.
A guilty verdict in this second prosecution would chill free expression in Finland and elsewhere.
My letter here:
— John Kennedy (@SenJohnKennedy) July 19, 2023
Her ongoing trial has captured international interest, including 16 U.S. lawmakers who railed against the “egregious and harassing” treatment.
Earlier this week, they sent a letter to U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain and Douglas Hickey, America’s Finnish ambassador.
“This prosecutor is dead set on weaponizing the power of Finland’s legal system to silence not just a member of parliament and Lutheran bishop but millions of Finnish Christians who dare to exercise their natural rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion in the public square,” the letter asserted.
The Biden administration has indicated that it has been in talks with the Finnish government about this case in private, but the lawmakers’ letter brings public attention to this situation — and puts additional pressure on prosecutors to drop their case against a woman who merely shared Bible verses online.