- - Wednesday, January 17, 2024

A version of this story appeared in the Higher Ground newsletter from The Washington Times. Click here to receive Higher Ground delivered directly to your inbox each Sunday.

Imagine facing potential jail time or massive fines for sharing a Bible verse on social media. Likewise, take a moment to envision being criminally castigated for merely commenting on theology – or for codifying in a pamphlet your thoughts about biblical marriage.

These are just some of the acts at the center of Paivi Rasanen’s “1984”-esque nightmare. In a plot seemingly ripped from the pages of an Alfred Hitchcock script, Ms. Rasanen, a member of the Finnish parliament who previously served as the nation’s interior secretary, was brought up on “hate crimes” charges for simply expressing her Christian beliefs.

Rather than a terror-inflicted plight in the bowels of a reclusive, human rights-abusing nation such as North Korea or a horror unfolding at the hands of Chinese Community Party officials, these attacks on free exercise are developing in an otherwise free society — and that should alarm us all.

The irony, of course, is that most progressives pledged that such punishments aimed at Christians would never come to fruition. The liberal talking heads promised such blights would remain a fictional leech feeding off conservative paranoia and angst. 

“That will never happen” has always been the rebuttal when slippery slope concerns have been raised amid the undeniable tension between LGBTQ rights and religious freedom. Now, those denials are mere rhetorical relics, with the so-called straw men of yesteryear becoming gargantuan, real-life boogeymen on a quest to destroy the very fabric of our freedoms.

SEE ALSO: Finnish prosecutor appeals hate speech acquittal of Christian lawmaker who quoted Bible online

Ms. Rasanen has spent years in court fighting criminal charges against her for daring to share her perspective on biblical Christianity. What precisely was she guilty of, you ask? 

She reportedly tweeted a text from Romans 1:24-27 on June 17, 2019, which bizarrely sparked a criminal investigation. Those tweets were paired with a pamphlet she wrote on traditional marriage 20 years ago, adding fuel to the legal fire. 

Even a media interview she conducted was enveloped in the case brought against her, with these basic acts of free speech and expression resulting in three hate speech charges, which put Ms. Rasanen at risk of two years behind bars. 

Ms. Rasanen hasn’t backed down from defending her rights — and her grit has paid off so far. In November, the Helsinki Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the charges against her, with the politician expressing relief at the time over what was seemingly the conclusion of an otherworldly case. That solace, though, was short-lived.

A rational person would expect the prosecution to be thoroughly humiliated after raising such preposterous charges — and twice losing — but just days before the deadline for appealing the case to Finland’s Supreme Court, Ms. Rasanen learned she may potentially be heading back to the courtroom to further defend her religious freedoms.

Ms. Rasanen told me earlier this month that she was shocked to learn the prosecutor was appealing the latest loss to the Finnish Supreme Court, detailing how clear the appeals court was about her innocence and the absurdity of the charges against her. 

Regardless of the surprising turn of events, the Finnish lawmaker is undeterred in her fight for ideological freedom. She’s not sure the high court will take the case, though she and her attorneys think there’s a high probability. 

And if the high court does honor the prosecutor’s request, Ms. Rasanen is hoping — and praying — that a definitive defense of religious liberty and free speech will be cemented. 

“This gives the possibility to have a very strong precedent — [a] positive precedent for freedom of speech and freedom of religion, freedom of faith in Finland,” she said, highlighting the potential strength of such a ruling.

Ms. Rasanen’s passion for the Christian gospel and willingness to stand up are laudable. The truth is: The prosecution’s incessant intent to challenge her rights makes a mockery of any freedom-loving legal system. 

The case’s frightening tenets are the collective embodiment of every warning conservatives and Christians have sounded about the dire state of our culture today. 

Meanwhile, adding shame to an already contemptible situation, many progressives remain silent, allowing Ms. Rasanen’s rights to be eroded with little care for the damage the case has done. It’s unconscionable to see Western nations abandoning free speech and expression at the whims of emotion, punishing someone for expressing views that were held and extolled for thousands of years before a woke cultural shift rendered them no longer en vogue.

Ms. Rasanen’s ongoing legal plight is one of the most significant court battles in the world right now, as tyrannical powers seem bent on eradicating anyone with whom they disagree. The result will no doubt have an incredible impact both in Finland and beyond.

Furthermore, there’s another diabolical truth at the core of the matter that cannot be ignored. It’s not Ms. Rasanen who has been put on trial. It’s the Bible itself that is under assault from a secular and ever-meandering culture concerned predominantly with the self.

“Freedom for me and none for thee” never ends well, and with liberty hanging in the balance, now’s the time to take a stand, pray, and speak out for freedom and liberty for all.

• Billy Hallowell is a digital TV host and interviewer for Faithwire and CBN News and the co-host of CBN’s “Quick Start Podcast.” He is the author of four books.

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