Religious Persecution

Finland Member of Parliament Päivi Räsänen and Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola stood (still stand?) accused by Finnish prosecutor Anu Mantila of the heinous hate speech crime of quoting from the Bible.

Finnish district courts said, no, and acquitted the two. The prosecutor objected and took the cases to a Finnish appellate court—where the two were once again acquitted. Räsänen:

It isn’t a crime to tweet a Bible verse, or to engage in public discourse with a Christian perspective. The attempts made to prosecute me for expressing my beliefs have resulted in an immensely trying four years, but my hope is that the result will stand as a key precedent to protect the human right to free speech.

Mantila’s weasel-worded rationalization of her decisions:

You can cite the Bible, but it is Räsänen’s interpretation and opinion about the Bible verses that are criminal[.]

Well, no, they’re not, not within any universally recognized concept of free speech and opinion-uttering.

Mantila may well appeal again, to the Supreme Court of Finland. If she does, the case will cease to be a matter of prosecution (if it ever was); it will be naked religious persecution and a parallel direct attack on the principles underlying free speech.

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