Päivi Räsänen (Photo by Roni Rekomaa,Roni Rekomaa/AFP via Getty Images)
Artillery Row

Liberalism is on trial in Europe

Päivi Räsänen is on trial for her Christian beliefs

While the former UK Home Secretary undergoes trial by media this week, elsewhere in Europe the former Finnish Home Secretary sits in the dock of a real criminal court.  

 What heinous crimes did she commit with her power? Did she order unjust punishments against innocent people, embezzle taxes, or, like Mrs Braverman, write a thoughtful op-ed in The Times

None of the above.  

Päivi Räsänen, still a long-serving parliamentarian and grandmother of eleven, is on trial for a Bible verse tweet. For the second time. Tomorrow, she receives her verdict from the Helsinki Court of Appeal.  

While authorities across Europe quibble as to how much glorification of Hamas terrorism can be permissible on our streets — how many calls for “jihad” it takes before police raise an eyebrow, or calls for the death of Jews before the speech is considered to incite any violence — the Finnish General Prosecutor is very clear on how much Bible is allowed.  

Not one Tweet. 

Paivi had published her short social media post back in 2019, in the context of a societal debate taking place around her Church at the time. She asked her Church leaders where in the Bible they found justification to sponsor the Helsinki Pride event. She attached an image of some verses from Romans. It was enough to trigger a police investigation, thirteen hours of interrogation at the station, and three criminal charges, filed under the “war crimes and crimes against humanity” section of the Finnish Criminal Code.  

The further two charges related to a short sound bite pulled from a live one hour radio debate given in 2019, and to a pamphlet she wrote for her Church in 2004, titled “Male and Female He Created Them” (a pamphlet, incidentally, written many years before the law she is being prosecuted under was even in force).

The disgust of the prosecutor for Paivi’s Christian faith is clear. She has likened the Bible to Mein Kampf — a historical text which one may cite, but never believe. The use of Päivi’s Biblical word “sin” was a violation of “sexual rights”, she reasoned.  

When it came to the pamphlet that Paivi had penned almost two decades ago, the prosecutor argued that: “The point isn’t whether it is true or not but that it is insulting.”  

Many no longer consider the West to be Christian. But the loss of the right to believe Christian teachings within its borders marks a deeply sinister turn away from liberal democracy. In a reversal from securing freedoms, we veer towards a prohibition of modern “blasphemy” against the dominant sexual orthodoxy of our day.  

The verdict pronounced tomorrow will not only fall on the shoulders of Päivi Räsänen. The Bible, freedom of speech, indeed the West itself is on trial. We wait with baited breath. 

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