Homophobic Finnish politician Päivi Räsänen

Homophobic Finnish politician cries wolf on “anti-Christian persecution”

A Finnish politician is holding firm on homophobic views she says are supported by the Bible as police begin a pre-trial investigation into her for promoting hate.

Driving the news

News Now Finland reports that an investigation into Päivi Räsänen is underway after the ex-Interior Minister tweeted in June that the Helsinki Pride event brings sin and shame.

According to police, the Christian Democrat MP and ex-party leader’s comments – in which she also criticised Lutheran Church support for the event – show intolerance towards minorities.

Under Finnish law, the charge of “inciting hatred” can bring a sentence of up to two years’ imprisonment.

Go deeper

Räsänen responded to the news of the investigation on Twitter, expressing her “astonishment” at the police probe.

“Everything you need to learn about the Church must be evaluated in the light of the Bible. How could this classic Christian view be a crime?”, the politician asked.

Her reactions came with a retweet of the original post that caused controversy in June, in which she questioned Church involvement with Gay Pride and asked: “How does the Church’s teaching align with being a proud sponsor of something that is according to the Bible both shameful and a sin?”

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Räsänen’s June tweet was accompanied with a screenshot of a Finnish translation of Romans 1:24-27, in which the Apostle Paul supposedly denigrates homosexual acts as “degrading”, “unnatural”, “shameless” and against the will of God.

Why it matters

American conservative author Rod Dreher picked up on the story and declared: “Stand strong, Päivi Räsänen!”

Dreher – famous for the “Benedict Option”, an ultraconservative broadside against the supposed “toxins” of secularism – compared the Finnish police’s investigation to the excesses of communism.

“What’s happening to this Finnish believer is a sign of what’s to come. Prepare for resistance“, Dreher warned.

For the record

But the kind of “prooftexting” in which Räsänen and Dreher indulge has been exposed time and time again by serious biblical scholars who point out that a verse without interpretation and context carries very little intellectual weight.

Not only that, but Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Bishop Tapio Luoma responded to Räsänen’s June tweet explaining that the Church’s support for Gay Pride was not political, but rather about the idea “that the Church’s message is for everyone… and same-sex couples are welcome at all church activities”.

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The scope and depth of the negative feedback to the Church’s backing of Gay Pride “was a surprise”, Luoma admitted.

Helsinki Pride chairperson Juha Kilpiä also responded to Räsänen and said “there’s room for differing opinions. What is more meaningful is what the parishes say and do”.

“We don’t see any reason why even one person should feel ashamed of their sexual orientation”, Kilpiä said.

“There are many different voices inside the Church and there always will be. People who participate in Pride are those who think marriage is a right that belongs to everyone”, the organiser explained.

“We want to provide room for that voice in our community”.

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Next on Novena:

Dr. Jere Kyyrö, Finnish religion researcher: “The Pope criticises the populists, but he also criticises the idea of a secular Europe”

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Cameron Doody

Director and editor at Novena
PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.