Here We Go: Finnish Lutheran Bishop and Christian Politician Both Face Trial for Rebuking Homosexuality

Some Finnish Lutheran leaders, their families, and a few politicians gathered under a tent in August 2021 for the elevation of Juhana Pohjola to bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (ELMDF).

The canvas protected them from the summer sun, but as they celebrated Pohjola’s investiture, they worried about facing a different kind of heat. Pohjola, 49, and one of his guests, politician Päivi Räsänen, 62, are facing criminal changes. According to the nation’s top prosecutor, the two people are accused of violating the equality and dignity of LGBT people.

Though Finland has legal protections for free speech and the free exercise of religion, Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen says Räsänen and Pohjola’s actions are criminal incitement against a minority group—hate speech.

According to the prosecutor, Räsänen has fueled intolerance and contempt of LGBT people three times: in comments she made on a nationally syndicated talk show on Finnish state-supported radio; in a 2019 tweet where she quoted Romans 1:24–27 to criticize the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF)—one of Finland’s two national churches—for its affiliation with Helsinki Pride; and in a 23-page booklet that Räsänen wrote titled Male and Female He Created Them.

Pohjola is being charged for publishing Räsänen’s booklet, which argues against same-sex marriage, contrasts LGBT identities with the Christian notion of what it means to be human, and describes same-sex attraction possibly as being inherently sinful and possibly the result of a “negative developmental disorder.” It was released in 2004 by Luther Foundation Finland, the legal entity behind the ELMDF.

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Source: Christianity Today