Six Republican members of Congress, led by Rep. Chip Roy (Texas), sent a letter Nov. 10 to Nadine Maenza, the chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), condemning the Finnish government for charging Finnish Parliament Member Päivi Räsänen with three counts of “ethnic agitation” because she expressed her Biblical beliefs on marriage and sexuality.
“These criminal prosecutions raise serious questions regarding the extent of Finland’s commitment to protecting freedom of religion for its citizens, as agreed to with its participation in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and other multi-lateral organizations,” the letter reads. “… These actions by the Finnish government will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on free speech in Finland and the West.”
Räsänen faces six years in prison, according to the Christian Post.
The charges against her stem from a 2004 pamphlet she wrote titled, “Male and Female He Created Them—Homosexual Relationships Challenge the Christian Concept of Humanity,” in which she said that God designed marriage for one man and one woman. She also expressed her views on a 2019 radio show and tweeted her church’s leadership questioning their support of an LGBTQ Pride event.
“At the center of religious liberty is the freedom for individuals to live in accordance to their conscience and beliefs,” Reps. Chip Roy (Texas), Doug Lamborn (Colorado), Paul Gosar (Arizona), Jody Hice (Georgia), Michael Cloud (Texas) and Byron Donalds (Florida) stated in the letter. “… True religious liberty both protects an individual’s right both to hold beliefs that are unpopular with the prevailing cultural winds of the world, but also their right to live out authentically and profess the truths they hold dear without fear of government interference.”
The representatives concluded the letter by urging the USCIRF to consider Finland’s religious liberty violations when recommending which countries should be added to the State Department’s Special Watch List.
Franklin Graham, who has met Räsänen, called her a “strong supporter of God’s Word and truth” and said the charges against her are an attack on all followers of Christ.
“This is another example of LGBTQ activists not wanting us to just accept them, but trying to shut our mouths from speaking the truth,” he posted to Facebook. “They want to force what they believe on the rest of the world. Like other evangelical Christians, Päivi Räsänen doesn’t hate them—she loves them enough to speak the truth. That isn’t hate speech. We live in a world where people don’t want to hear the truth if it makes them feel uncomfortable or doesn’t line up with what they want.”
Franklin urged his social media followers to contact USCIRF to express their concern, because “the freedom to preach and share the Word of God is ultimately at stake,” he said. “As Christians, if we don’t boldly stand against this kind of oppression and discrimination, the freedom to preach the truth of the Bible could be lost forever.”
Photo: Courtesy of ADF International