America’s northern neighbors have adopted a new law that asserts any “practice, treatment, or service” intended to change an LGBTQ person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual is considered “conversion therapy,” and is now outlawed, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Canada is not alone in its attack on Christianity.
This week, according to The Federalist, two Christian activists in Finland – Member of Parliament Paivi Rasanen and Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola – went on trial for violating Finnish hate-crimes laws by promoting biblical views of sex and marriage.
Paul Coleman, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom International, a public interest legal group that defends freedom of religion, told The Federalist prosecutors tried to make their case by quoting the Bible, which they labeled as “hate speech.”
If convicted, Rasanen and Pohjola could receive up to two years behind bars.
Coleman said prosecutors tried to make the argument that the defendants had to choose whether they “follow Finnish law or the Bible, as if these things are so inherently contradictory that you have to choose one.”
“I would characterize the [trial’s opening] day as a modern-day Inquisition or heresy trial,” Coleman added. “And the heresy was that Paivi and Bishop Juhana were on trial against the new sexual orthodoxy of the day.”
“Hate speech laws are so vaguely worded, they’re so subjective, they are ripe for arbitrary enforcement,” Coleman noted. “They are set up for people to pick and choose. … In this case, the police recommended not to prosecute but they overrode that. So you can pick and choose and find anything.”
Ironically, Christianity is the official state religion of Finland.
The trial is in recess until Feb. 14. But the proceeding has captured the attention of American Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Byron Donalds, both of Florida.
They are among a group of 11 Republicans who have condemned the trial as a violation of religious rights.
On Monday, for example, Rubio joined four other GOP senators in sending a letter to Rashad Hussain, the new U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom. The lawmakers urged him to speak out as well.
They noted that Rasanen and Pohjola are essentially on trial for promoting “a conception of marriage and sexuality that is upheld not just by hundreds of millions of Christians, but also by many Muslims and Jews worldwide.”
“We are greatly concerned that the use of Finnish law is tantamount to a secular blasphemy law. It could open the door for prosecution of other devout Christians, Muslims, Jews, and adherents of other faiths for publicly stating their religious beliefs that may conflict with secular trends,” their letter said.
“We believe that, regardless of whether Finnish prosecutors agree with the religious beliefs that MP Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola have expressed, all people have a fundamental right to the freedoms of religion and speech, which should be upheld without fear of government interference.”
The lawmakers concluded by saying the United States and Finland “enjoy significant historic, cultural, economic, and security ties that speak to the values that we both share.”
“This is precisely why we are concerned with these alarming developments that stand to weaken Finland’s commitment to the bedrock rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. … (W)e urge you to raise these concerns with the Finnish government as proceedings continue against MP Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola, condemn these unjust prosecutions, and continue to monitor other developments that threaten religious freedom in Finland and Europe.”