Christian politician facing second police interview over views on sexuality

A Finnish politician who was investigated for questioning her church denomination’s support of a gay pride even is facing a second police interview. This time, Päivi Räsänen will be interviewed about a pamphlet she wrote over 16 years ago on human sexuality for a Christian foundation. The investigation, which has garnered headlines across the world, stemmed from a tweet Räsänen sent in June of last year in which she criticised the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland’s (ELCF) participation in the Helsinki LGBT Pride events.

“How can the church’s doctrinal foundation, the Bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of pride?” she wrote at the time.

After attending a lengthy police interview in Novermber 2019, it was understood that the police had dropped the investigation. Now, prosecutors are opening it up once again and Räsänen is set to be interviewed by police on Monday, March 2nd.

This is the offending post: a picture of Romans 1:24-27 and the following comment:

Rough translation:
The church, of which I am a member, has declared itself to be the official partner of the Helsinki Pride 2019. How is the foundation of the church, the Bible, to be reconciled with the Ideor, where shame and sin are raised as a topic of pride? #pride2019 #raamattu #evlutkirkko #rom1:24-27

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It is not just her (the Christian Democrat politician) but also a free church:

The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland ( Suomen evankelisluterilainen Lähetyshiippakunta – ELMDF) has announced that their Dean, Rev. Dr. Juhana Pohjola, was summoned for questioning at the Helsinki Police Department on February 11, 2020.

The interrogation lasted five hours. He has been declared suspected of “ethnic agitation.”

The ELMDF is under investigation by Finland’s Prosecutor General for the publication of a bookletupholding historic Christian teachings on human sexuality. That booklet is “Male and Female He Created Them: Homosexual Relationships Challenge the Christian Concept of Humanity,” written by Dr. Päivi Räsänen, a Member of Parliament in Finland and former Minister of the Interior. Dr. Räsänen is also under investigation by the Prosecutor General.

The ELMDF’s booklet was published in 2004, well before the 2017 legalization of same-sex marriage in Finland. In the work, Dr. Räsänen argues that homosexual activity must be identified as sin by the Church on the basis of the teachings of Scripture.

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This is harassment by Finland’s Prosecutor General and probably an abuse of power. An investigation for criticizing her church for supporting a Pride event. An investigation for writing a theological document that says homosexual acts can’t be supported by the Bible, the authority in Lutheranism (Sola Scriptura). Now two investigations for explaining to journalists the Christian position.

The Finnish Prosecutor General on Thursday ordered two new criminal investigations into Päivi Räsänen over comments she made to journalists.

The investigations relate to the Christian Democrat MP’s discussion around the Bible, Jesus, sin and grace on a programme hosted by Maria Veitola on MTV3 in Feburary 2018, and a radio discussion with journalist Ruben Stiller called “What Would Jesus Think About Gays”, which aired in December 2019.

In a statement in Finnish, Räsänen said she has now twice been interviewed by the police in Pasila, Helsinki, over her talk show appearances and that she is awaiting two further interrogations.

She said that the police concluded no crime had been committed and that it was the Prosecutor General who has ordered the pre-trial investigations.

“I find the situation incomprehensible and completely absurd,” she said.

"These requests for investigation, and the criminal investigations launched on the basis thereof, seek to limit freedom of expression and religion, and to create a climate of self-censorship for Christians.

“At the same time, there is a risk that the media and journalists will start to cut off some of the discussion. The cycle of fear and silence should not be accepted.”

Remember, the head of a Lutheran free church denomination, which the Christian MP is not a member of is also being harassed.

Dr Pohjola, who is Dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, is accused of “ethnic agitation”.

He says Helsinki police interrogated him for five hours on February 11 over his involvement with the pamphlet. He denies inciting “ethnic agitation”.

“In my view, Mrs Räsänen’s text is not defamatory or insulting to homosexuals. In my answers, I showed that the booklet teaches in line with Christian anthropology that every person is precious as [being created in] the image of God, regardless of sexual orientation,” he said.

“This does not mean, however, that people are not responsible before God for their way of life or moral choices. The homosexual lifestyle is contrary to God’s order of creation and a transgression against His will. If one is not allowed to teach this publicly, the message of sin and grace will be left without a foundation, and freedom of religion will decline.”

Wow this is frightening. Coming here (to the U.S.) if we are not vigilant. One former Preisdential candidate already advocated pulling the tax exempt status of churches that refuse to hire those in same sex marriages. Yes we have the first amendment but they want to do away with that.

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I continue to be puzzled by those who claim we should be more like Europe. I pray for this woman.

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Ah, that homogenous entity ‘Europe’ again.

Wow. That is ridiculous. Do they not have good freedom of religion and freedom of speech over there?

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True. Poorly worded. Sorry. Sort of like “Protestants do ______”

Don’t forget the Dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland.

True. Bravery in the face of religion and speech persecution.

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Context:
Finland has two national churches: the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Finnish Orthodox Church. Members of these denominations pay a church tax collected by the government.
The largest is the former (and is also the denomination the Christian politician being persecuted is a member of).

Year 1900 1950 2000 2017 2018
Total Population 2,656,000 4,030,000 5,181,000 5,513,000 5,518,000
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland 98.1% 95.0% 85.1% 70.9% 69.8%
Orthodox Church 1.7% 1.7% 1.1% 1.1% 1.1%
Other Christians, Muslims, etc. 0.2% 0.5% 1.1% 1.6% 1.7%
Unaffiliated - 2.8% 12.7% 26.3% 27.4%

(http://tilastokeskus.fi/tup/suoluk/suoluk_vaesto_en.html)

Only 1.8% of the National Lutheran church’s members attended services weekly in 2009/2010. This denomination has an episcopal polity, blesses same-sex couples and ordains women.
(https://yle.fi/uutiset/osasto/news/church_attendance_falls_religion_seen_as_private/5539349)
(https://www.guelphmercury.com/news-story/2730545-finland-s-evangelical-lutheran-church-elects-1st-female-bishop-in-helsinki/)

The Dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland is also being harassed by the prosecution service in Finland.
The ELMDF is a confessional Lutheran denomination, which means they accept the Book of Concord’s understanding of the Bible as correct (quia). This is in contrast to the national Lutheran church, which sees the Book of Concord only accurate as long as it agrees with them (quatenus). Therefore, the ELMDF doesn’t ordain women and explicitly holds the Christian position marriage is only between one man and one women.

The Mission Diocese is an independent lutheran church under episcopal oversight, formed by congregations. It is part of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” confessed in the Creeds. As such, the responsibilities and promises God gives in His word apply to the Diocese, and it is truly a church in accordance with the definition of the Augsburg Confession, Article VII, on account, and by the power, of the means of grace administered within it.

The Mission Diocese was born within the ELCF [national church], and it continues in the Lutheran faith and congregational life that has prevailed in Finland since the 16th century, as a self-governing church.

The Mission Diocese has declared full altar and pulpit fellowship (communion) with:

Lutheran Church–Canada (note from me: the Lutheran Church-Canada is in full communion with the LCMS, it used to be a part of the LCMS before being given independence)
The Mission Province in Sweden ( Missionsprovinsen i Sverige )
The Evangelical Lutheran Diocese in Norway ( Det evangelisk-lutherske stift i Norge )

Year Members Congregations
2013 1,473 25
2014 1,668 28
2015 1,792 30
2016 1,842 32
2017 1,952 32

The weekly attendance rate of its members is about 80%.

Apparently who a person is sexually attracted to forms an ethnicity in Finland.

Juhana Pohjola, Dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland and head of the group of churches’ publishing house, responded to police questions for five hours

Both Päivi Räsänen and Juhana Pohjola could be accused of “ethnic agitation” against homosexual people, a crime described in the Section 10 of the Penal Code. Sexual orientation was added in 2011 to a law that had been originally created to punish racism.

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