Finnish bishop faces prosecution over Christian values
A Finnish religious leader facing prosecution for publishing a booklet promoting Christian teachings about marriage and sexuality is warning that “the Gospel of Christ is at stake” as Western governments liken such beliefs to hate speech.
The Rev. Juhana Pohjola, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, spoke at the Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious liberty law firm, Wednesday to discuss the prosecution he faces for publishing a booklet titled Male and Female He Created Them: Homosexual relationships challenge the Christian concept of humanity.
Paivi Rasanen, a Finnish member of parliament and medical doctor, wrote the booklet in 2004 when Finland was passing laws treating same-sex relationships as equivalent to heterosexual relationships under the law. The booklet concluded that the recognition of same-sex relationships had a detrimental effect on society. At the time of the booklet’s publication, the Finnish government was considering legislation that would enable same-sex couples to adopt children.
In his address at Alliance Defending Freedom, Pohjola warned that his prosecution illustrates that “the Gospel of Christ is at stake” because of postmodernism and its accompanying cancel culture and hate speech laws, which he believes have been unfairly used against him: “When postmodernism first swept over Western countries, its basic core was denial of absolute truth. The only truth was that you must allow everyone to have his or her own subjective truth.”
“This hyper-individualism continues, but it has now a different tone. If you are against LGBTQ+ ideology, so-called diversity, equality and inclusiveness, you are not only considered to be old-fashioned (…) but rejected as morally evil. This is what the prosecutor general understands her duty to be, to protect fragile citizens and victims from the intolerant and hateful Christians.”
After expressing concern about the development of “cancel culture” in Europe and Finland,” he said he agreed with political commentators in the U.S. about “soft totalitarianism in Western countries when all aspects of life, media, business, education, culture, courts, army and church parties are taken over by the same ideology that suppresses freedom of speech and suffocates differing opinions and viewpoints.”
Pohjola devoted most of his speech to detailing the legal challenge he’s embroiled in. He recalled that in late April, “the prosecutor general of Finland decided to bring charges against me and (…) a member of parliament, Mrs. Paivi Rasanen.”
The indictment accused them of “incitement to hatred against a group which falls under the section of war crimes and crimes against humanity.” Pohjola read aloud the description of his offense, which stated that he “made and maintained available to the public opinions and allegations defaming and insulting homosexuals as a group on the basis of their sexual orientation.”
Previously, the Helsinki Police Department “pressed charges against me and Mrs. Rasanen arguing that the pamphlet found on our webpage was discriminatory toward homosexuals” in August 2019. While “the police in charge decided to drop the case,” it ended up on the “table of the general prosecutor’s office.” Pohjola added that on Reformation Day, the 31st of October 2019, “the prosecutor general of Finland announced that she had ordered a preliminary investigation on the subject matter.”