What secular European media has labeled the "Bible Trial" wrapped up in Finland today. Now, Finnish member of parliament Päivi Räsänen is left to wait for the verdict. This case has not only turned out to be one of the biggest religious freedom cases in Europe, but globally. Before closing arguments today, FRC's Special Advisor for Religious Freedom, Andrew Brunson, delivered a prayer pledge signed by 14,341 Americans committed to praying for Päivi.
Päivi was accused of three counts of alleged "hate speech" brought against her by Finland's Prosecutor General, arising from a 2019 tweet with a photo of a Bible passage, a 2019 radio debate, and a 2004 pamphlet she authored about God's design for sexuality. At the heart of this case is whether articulating religious beliefs based in the Bible can be criminalized if some people find them to be offensive.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) joined "Washington Watch" to discuss just how significant this is: "When you think about today what the prosecutor is saying that the Bible has got to take a backseat to finish law. Think about the implications of that.... that somehow the Bible and that freedom of religion, in the words of the prosecutor, 'stops at the door of discrimination.' Well, the natural extension of that is that if you believe the Bible and you believe that it is the inherent word of God ... you're automatically discriminating against people of other faiths. And so that's the road that we're headed down, and it's not that far away in this country."
After delivering the prayer pledge to Päivi, Brunson joined "Washington Watch" to talk about his experience. He said one Finnish media member explained the ramifications of the prosecution's understanding of Finland's hate speech law this way: "You can quote the Bible, but not in a way that indicates that you believe or agree with what you're quoting."
Brunson is no stranger to grave violations of religious freedom. It was just over three years ago when he was imprisoned in Turkey that FRC delivered thousands of prayers pledges to him as well. Today, he had the opportunity to offer the same encouragement to Päivi -- the knowledge that thousands of people were praying for her.
As our culture grows more hostile to biblical beliefs, more Christians will be faced with difficult decisions and the pressure to compromise. As Brunson said, "[Päivi] could escape this pressure that she's been under for the last two years by apologizing for her beliefs, by groveling, by compromising. But she's standing strong... giving a good example for others who are going to face similar decisions in the future."
Päivi is feeling confident about the outcome of her case. But sadly, we are likely to see more, not less of these incidences arising given the recent push for "hate speech" laws in the West.
Brunson articulates the question we should all start asking ourselves: "Am I going to fear man or am I going to fear God?"