He added: “I’m very thankful that this freedom of speech and religion, the basic rights, are maintained in our country. Although like Päivi Räsänen said, we would have continued anyway because as a guardian of faith and a teacher of faith, it’s our holy duty and vocation to teach all what Christ has given in His Word.”
Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International, which supported Räsänen and Pohjola, said that the Christian legal group was delighted by the court’s ruling.
“We consider it to be an extremely important decision, which upholds the fundamental right to freedom of speech in Finland, but also more broadly,” he said.
“We believe that in a free society, everyone should be allowed to share their beliefs without fear of censorship. And we see the great threat that can come through these hate speech laws, which often end up shutting down important public debates and often can pose a great threat not only to freedom of expression and freedom of religion, but also to democracy itself.”
He added: “While we celebrate this victory, we also lament the fact that this case was brought in the first place. This has been an ordeal that has lasted for almost three years. It has involved hours of police interrogations, countless hours of time of Bishop Juhana and Päivi having to defend themselves, explain themselves, explain their beliefs to police officers and prosecutors.”
“We lament the fact that in the court hearing itself, the state prosecutor was engaging in critique of the Bible and raising theological questions to an ordained bishop.”
“And so while we celebrate the victory, the real victories that we will see in Europe is when cases like this don’t exist in the first place. Because as long as these cases continue to exist, and so much time, effort, and energy are required to defend innocent people from these charges, then we can never truly say that it is a victory for freedom of expression.”