I’m sure you’ve seen the recent coverage of the trial of Päivi Räsänen, a Finnish member of Parliament who is being charged with three counts of “ethnic agitation,” a hate speech provision in Finland’s criminal code.
The first charge concerns a 2019 tweet in which she questioned the decision of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (her own denomination) to partner with Helsinki’s gay pride parade. Her tweet also featured an image of Romans 1:24-27. The second charge concerns comments Räsänen made about homosexuality in a 2019 radio interview. The third charge concerns a 2004 booklet she wrote articulating her church’s teaching on sexuality.
Now, you might be wondering why we are giving so much attention to an international case. It’s because Räsänen’s situation is a harbinger of the growing threat to religious freedom and the freedom of speech that the Left considers offensive. It’s also because what is happening in Finland could soon be happening here. Unless we pray and act!
You see, in the United States, congressional Democrats are trying to pass legislation that similarly threatens religious freedom, specifically people’s ability to operate in the public square according to their sincerely held beliefs. In Finland, this type of thinking is what led the government to target Räsänen.
One such piece of legislation is the Equality Act, which would overhaul our federal civil rights framework to mandate special privileges for sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). It has already passed the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives twice in the past few years. But thankfully, conservatives have blocked this radical bill thus far in the U.S. Senate, and the Equality Act appears to be dead for the remainder of this session of Congress.
But the Equality Act isn’t the only cause for concern. The Fairness for All Act is pitched as a grand compromise between the progressive goals of the Equality Act and religious freedom. Although it is a modest improvement over the Equality Act, Fairness for All fails to adequately address the many concerns that most Americans have with the Equality Act. Fairness for All might prove to be the more dangerous bill, since it currently has 19 Republican sponsors in the House.
A third bill, the Global Respect Act, seeks to create the same changes as the Equality Act and the Fairness for All Act in American foreign policy.
Mark my words: despite their appealing names, all three of these bills will gut religious freedom. If these bills become law, what is happening in Finland will happen in the United States.
With the midterm elections fast approaching, Democrats are pulling out all the stops to ram through their agenda, even attempting to change longstanding Senate rules to do so. Democratic leadership knows their fragile majority in Congress is in jeopardy, so they are putting tremendous pressure on those members currently on the fence about supporting this legislation.
You see, if Räsänen would simply apologize for her remarks, this ordeal would all be over for her. But that would mean she would have to turn her back on the truth of God’s word and forfeit her God-given right to freedom of religion. Instead, Räsänen has chosen to boldly stand for truth and the right of people in Finland and around the world to hold and express religious beliefs. She recently said, “I cannot accept that voicing religious beliefs could mean imprisonment. I will defend my right to confess my faith, so that no one else would be deprived of their right to freedom of religion and speech.” Because of her stand, she could face up to two years in prison if convicted.
The threat to religious freedom is very real, and we must address it. Would you join us in protecting religious freedom both here at home and around the world?
May God give us all boldness in the days ahead to stand for our faith.
Standing (Eph. 6:13),