I Prayed have prayed
Lord, thank you for the court victory for Dr. Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola. Thank You for enabling the judges to have wisdom and courage to stand against the repressive prosecution of the Finnish authorities. Please continue to encourage these two leaders in the face of the government’s ongoing attempts to pursue criminal charges against them.

Finland has quite a track record going. For the fifth year in a row it landed recognition as the happiest place on earth in a recently released UN-sponsored report. Yet these have not been the happiest of years for a well-known legislator and a bishop who remain in the crosshairs of the Finnish government.

Päivi Räsänen — a Finnish Member of Parliament (MP) who a decade ago was the country’s Interior Minister and chair of the Christian Democrat Party — and Bishop Juhana Pohjola found themselves in hot water after Räsänen used Twitter and other social media to question her church leadership’s decision to partner with an LGBT celebratory event in 2019. That was enough to get her called in for questioning by the police, who also became interested in a related broadcast interview and a pamphlet published all the way back in 2004 (with the help of Pohjola). The Finnish Prosecutor General then lodged criminal charges against them for “hate speech.”

As you may know, this story appeared to have a happy ending when a district court in Helsinki acquitted the MP and the bishop at the end of March. In a unanimous decision, the trial’s judges found that just because Räsänen’s statements might offend, they were not an “incitement to hatred.”  They affirmed that “there must be an overriding social reason for interfering with and restricting freedom of expression,” and that threshold was not reached here. For good measure the court also required the prosecution to pay for more than €60,000 to cover the legal fees of the defendants.

Sadly, the relief for Räsänen and Pohjola was short-lived. Alliance Defending Freedom International, which has been supporting the defense, announced on April 6 that Finland’s state prosecutor has signaled she will appeal the court’s ruling and continue pursuing the criminal allegations. According to previous reports, it’s possible this was could wind its way all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights.

“This case has been hanging over me and my family for almost three years,” said Räsänen. “After my full exoneration in court, I am dismayed that the prosecutor will not let this campaign against me drop.”

She added, “Once again, I am prepared to defend freedom of speech and religion not just for me, but for everyone. I am grateful for all those who have stood by me during this ordeal and ask for their continued support.”

We should be sure to praise God for the important court victory in Helsinki. But let’s keep praying. And let us not forget the chilling history — the ordeal, as Räsänen says — that led to this point.

First of all, keep in mind the original social media post (you can see it here). Don’t worry. Despite all the disturbing and outrageous things you can easily find elsewhere on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other platforms, you won’t see any derogatory or violent imagery in this instance. The picture just highlights verses from the Book of Romans.

Notably, in a 2020 interview with First Things, Räsänen said, “The purpose [of] my tweet was in no way to insult sexual minorities. My criticism was aimed at the leadership of the church.”

Whether you agree with Räsänen’s expressions or not, a reasonable observer would seem hard-pressed to find an incitement to violence or other dehumanization here. In fact, as you can see, even the social media platforms — not always friends of free speech — chose to leave the posts up despite international scrutiny. Similarly, the Finnish broadcaster kept the interview in question available.

But Finnish Prosecutor General Anu Mantila had a very different perspective. She suggested that “freedom of thought and conscience is unrestricted,” but that expressing ideas and beliefs was a different matter. Through her lens making a faith statement about the deeds of an individual is actually levying judgment on the whole worth of a person.

Strikingly, she said, “Actions cannot be separated from identity because actions are part of identity. Understanding deeds as sin is derogatory.”

That argument should send up a flag of caution for all freedom-loving people. Indeed, wary of a secular form of dangerous blasphemy laws found in other parts of the world, former Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said, “What’s unfolding in Finland should be a wake-up call to stand for our freedoms, rather than take them for granted.”

The longtime human rights champion added, “We may not think that such a case could happen in the United States, but Räsänen thought the same thing about Finland until it happened to her.”

Again, please continue to pray for Räsänen, Pohjola, and advocates working in Finland and beyond to defend freedom.

How are you praying for Räsänen and Pohjola? Share this article to encourage others to pray.

Aaron Mercer is a Contributing Writer with two decades of experience in Washington, D.C.’s public policy arena. Photo Credit: Canva.

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Toni
June 25, 2022

Lord, we pray for the salvation of Finnish Prosecutor General Anu Mantila; she obviously has no respect for the Bible or she would never say, “understanding deeds as sin is derogatory.” We also ask that Finland have the wisdom to appoint or elect a new Prosecutor General; one who is not adamantly opposed to a Biblical worldview!

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Dalia Herrera
April 13, 2022

Father fill the hearts of the people with; your love so people will know the truth of the message of Christ Jesus. Father you have the solution to all our troubles because you are the manufacture and we are the product and only the manufacture knows how the products really works. Thank you for answer prayers for Rasanen and Pohjola and for your grace be upon them. Amen

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ofelia claudio
April 13, 2022

Thank you, Father God, for the victory of Dr. Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola. Sadly, but understandably, our defeated enemy won’t give up! BUT God, the Sovereign God, the God of ALL creation, the Giver and Sustainer of Life, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is NOT to be MOCKED!!! He is righteous and just! We pray Psalm 3: “Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! 2 Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” 3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” And we decree Isaiah 54:17 over them: No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

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Christine Stott
April 12, 2022

Lord Jesus Christ, We thank You for the court victory for Dr. Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola. Thank You for enabling the judges to have wisdom and courage to stand against the oppressive prosecution of the Finnish authorities. Please continue to encourage these two leaders in the face of their government’s ongoing attempts to pursue criminal charges against them. They are laying down their lives for You, as You said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it.”

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Ann
April 12, 2022

Satan is devious and unrelenting. He attacks with his fangs and never completely lets go of his victim. He wears people down until they no longer have the energy or courage to stand. I thank the Lord for Paivi Rasanen and Bishop Ahjola and pray truth will stand and their faith will remain strong in face of the attacks waged against them.

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Thomas McClellan
April 12, 2022

Things are not falling apart. Things are falling into place. With this knowledge, we should be exercising more effort to pray, and reach the Lost by voice and deeds. It was not “Escapism,” when Noah built the Ark, it was obedience. Didn’t Noah, continue to warn them even when the “mockers” of his day ridiculed him ? If we are “more than conquerors,” “then we must conquer first, then rule.”

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Darlene Estlow
April 12, 2022

Father, I lift up Dr. Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola for your protection as they go through this persecution. May the court find in their favor and in that of free speech. May your presence encourage and sustain them as they continue in this battle. Turn the hearts of those who are persecuting them and if they will not relent, remove them.

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Venisa Villar
April 12, 2022

Father God, Our shade from the Heat, Our Anchor that Holds, our Refuge and very present Help in trouble…who rules and reigns among all the choas of this present world….we look to You for what is going on in Dr. Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola‘s lives: Being persecuted for their Biblical believes and for having their freedom of speech under attack…in order to take away worldwide. We thank You God for their win in court…but the persecution continues…and is spreading everywhere….help us have Your courage and bravery Jesus to stand against all the freedoms that they are trying to strip from us as nations and countries. As I type this out there is a beautiful rainbow out side my window…reminding me of Your great and precious promises: that if we run under the shadow of Your wings and abide there…You will be with us!! (Ps. 91)…Your ARE where our help comes from ( Ps.121). Be not afraid You are our Shield and very great reward…when we go through the fire and the floods…You will be with us.,,You never leave us nor forsake us…on and on and on it goes…help them and help all Christians, including me, to stand strong in their/my faith and not waver…help us get our eyes off fear tactics and circumstances and on to You, Lord, with our eyes fixed. Help my brother who is going to lose his job this week after working over 30 years faithfully in the plants in Louisiana, and because he does not want to take the vaccine…by the 15th …he is going to loose his job!! This should not be so for anyone!! Our freedoms in America are also being taking away one day at a time…Help us God gain ground that the enemy has taken away and is trying to take away…for greater are You, Jesus, Who is in us than he that is in the world ( satan an his demons) (from I John 4:4). In Jesus’ Name and Blood May all the unholy persecution stop against Your creation Lord God, and there be a great turn to Jesus for salvations and Hope by all those who see no hope and therefore are running scared. May they themselves find peace and safety in You, Lord Jesus, they are in need of Your Holy Spirits guidance!! Save God for Your very own glory the persecutors…May they have a Damascus road experience like Saul who became Paul the apostle. Nothing is too hard for You God and nothing is impossible with You. In Jesus’Name we pray believing Who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Amen.

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Mattgew
April 12, 2022

The world is going to hell in a handbag

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Mattgew
April 12, 2022

Crazy the world is going to hell in a handbag

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