Surprising number of people showed up in front of the Finnish Embassy in Budapest on a sunny Sunday afternoon to show solidarity with the former Interior Minister, Paivi Rasanen and a Lutheran Bishop, Juhana Pohjola, accused of inciting violence against homosexuals for quoting from the Bible. Finnish Christian Democrat politician Päivi Räsänen faces up to two years in prison for, among other charges, tweeting a Bible verse quoting the apostle Paul. She is accused of three counts of incitements against a minority group.
Räsänen, a medical doctor who was Finland’s Interior Minister between 2011 and 2014, and a leader of the Christian Democrats, has repeatedly stated in recent years that she considers marriage to be a union between a man and a woman. Two years ago, when her church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF), announced its official participation in the 2019 LGBT Pride festival, she quoted the Apostle Paul from the Bible, (Romans 1:24-27).
Soon her Twitter post was deemed a crime, incitement against minorities, and five separate complaints were filed about other comments and interviews she gave. The police questioned her several times, but in no case was she found to have violated the law. However, the Prosecutor General summoned her shortly after and decided to file three counts of criminal charges against the politician in April 2021.
One charge concerns her Twitter post, another her booklet titled “Male and Female He Created Them,” published in 2004, and the third charge concerns her comments on a 2019 radio talk show called, What would Jesus think about homosexuals? The trial began on January 24.
According to press reports, the former interior minister is on trial after being accused of engaging in “hate speech” in connection with public comments she made describing homosexuality as a “disorder of psychosexual development,” and labeling homosexuals as “dysfunctional.” Her tweet was accompanied by a picture of a Bible passage describing homosexual acts as “shameful” and “unnatural.”
The organizers of the solidarity rally said that the trial is not just a Finnish internal issue, but an international one, since it is basically the Bible being put on the stand, and the outcome would have an effect of all of Europe.
The demonstration, originally planned for 150-200 people, was eventually attended by roughly 3,000 people, according to the organizers. Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Pentecostal, Evangelical believers showed up with their Bibles and signs to protest against censoring God’s Word, and standing for the freedom of religion and freedom of speech that their ancestors gave blood to provide it for them.
István László Mészáros, former Deputy Chairman of the Hungarian Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, Minorities and Religion, stated:
„Thus, according to the Attorney General, it is a crime to cite the Scriptures that form the basis of the Judeo-Christian civilization and European culture, to confess its teachings, and the value judgment formulated on the basis of these. We definitely reject that!”
He added: a historical lawsuit was taking place in the Baltic state, because so far even "the most perverted dictators have never tried to criminalize biblical principles about the nature of marriage and the family." During his speech, he raised his Bible high several times.
At the end of his speech, Mészáros made it clear, that it is not only Paivi Rasanen and Juhana Pohjola, a politician and a bishop, that sit on trial, but - among others - Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, St. Peter, St. Paul and with them all the apostles.
“And in spirit, all of us! … the order of nature itself, human civilization, and European culture inseparable from Christian roots. Therein sits the whole Bible itself, therein the Bible's distributors, publishers, printers - along with Guttenberg. And above all, the author of Scripture himself! ”
Tamás Márkus, a protestant pastor highlighted the fact, that unfortunately, many people to this day believe that the danger is far away, it is a distant problem.
“It’s not far away, and it’s not a distant, it is a near and serious problem. One day we might wake up, and if we don't pay attention: we will be in a similar situation„
– he warned, to which many in the crowd responded with an exclamation “we won’t let it!”.
The Reformed pastor has stated that Christians must uncompromisingly proclaim what they believe in until they can do so. Tamás Márkus stated: Paivi Rasanen is accused of being unloving, but the one that defines love is not the people, but the Word itself, and it is the same about defining what is sin and what is not.
"And there is no mouthpiece for the scriptures," he said, adding that no one loved people more than Jesus.
Paivi Rasanen was deeply moved by the solidarity of the Hungarian people.
„THANK YOU! This is incredibly moving and encouraging! The crowd is unbelievable! I followed the event on Facebook. Thanks a million to all the organizers! Thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ, that we are one family in Him!”
The demonstrators read out and sent a petition to the Finnish Ambassador to Hungary as well. Ambassador Markku Virri refused to take it, therefore it was put in the mailbox.
“The world can change but the Word stays forever. No government or court should interfere with the relationship of a person and God, and the road of searching of salvation. Many have tried to do so during the history but none of them succeeded. Today it has become favored to rewrite the history, to overwrite eternal axioms of the nature, and to interchange ground moral values. We adjure Finland to do not step on this road” – said the letter.