Close to 500 Christians demonstrated with communal prayer and Bible reading in front of the Finnish Embassy in Budapest on the 29th of August. The participants of the action stood for the former Finnish Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen, who is accused of incitement against a minority group.
The demonstration in support of the Finnish Christian Democrat politician was organised by Sára Kulifai, foreign affairs columnist for Hetek.
In a leaflet attached to the event, Sára Kulifai wrote that the MEP was taken to court for "quoting the words of the Apostle Paul from the Bible on homosexuality" in connection with the Finnish Evangelical Church's stand for Pride.
The former head of the Finnish Interior Ministry is also facing trial in two other cases:
- a 2004 pamphlet she wrote about "people created male and female by God",
- and for comments she made on a 2018 talk show entitled "What did Jesus think about homosexuality?"
Päivi Räsänen was acquitted by the court in March this year at first instance, but the trial continued following an appeal by the Finnish Attorney General.
Participants in Tuesday's demonstration in Budapest wanted to hand a Bible to the Finnish ambassador, but were told that no one was in the building and the embassy was closed, so the scripture was placed in the mailbox. The organisers wanted to draw attention to the fact that the Bible is the common foundation of Finnish and Hungarian Christian culture.
Máté Kulifai, the editor of Hetek, said at the demonstration that they wanted to stand up not only for Päivi Räsänen, but also for all persecuted Christians, because Christianity is "the most persecuted minority in the world today".
"the Christian faith cannot be ghettoised".
At the end of the event, the Christian demonstrators, who filled almost the entire street in front of the Finnish Embassy in Budapest, recited the Lord's Prayer together.
Almost immediately after the end of the trial, the phone rang with Sára Kulifai, columnist of Hetek and organiser of the Bible reading action in front of the Finnish Embassy in Budapest. On the other end of the line was Päivi Räsänen, who felt it was important to personally thank the Hungarians who stood up for her after two days of exhausting trials.
"Thank you very much for your support, it was very encouraging to see the pictures of the demonstration. It made our news... it made me very happy."
- she said.
Päivi stressed that she felt that his case was not just about her, but that she and many other people felt that if such speeches could be prosecuted, it would put freedom of speech and freedom of religion at risk, not only in Finland but also in Europe. That is why she feels this is a historic case.
Asked how she felt after the hearings, she said she was relieved, but also satisfied and happy looking back at the hearings, because she felt she had been able to defend her rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to express his faith and to represent the Bible.
"I was able to share the good news of the Gospel and of Jesus in court, and this was carried into Finnish homes thanks to live streaming. I am grateful for that."
- she added.
The verdict is expected until the 30th of November.
At the end of the interview, Päivi thanked all the kind words of encouragement from Hungary, but especially the prayers for her.
"I am very grateful for all the prayers! I believe that when God leads people to pray for Finland and for this cause, He is planning something good, He is preparing something good."
- she pointed out, adding:
"It is great to experience that we are all like one big family, with Christian brothers and sisters all over the world. Please pass on my greetings and thanks to all who prayed. It is very humbling to have people praying for me whom I have never met. I am very humbled."