Wednesday morning, Rep. Chip Roy (TX-21) released the following statement regarding the Helsinki District Court’s unanimous “not guilty” verdict in the prosecution of Finnish M.P. Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola for sharing their Christian faith.
“Today, I join with thousands of Americans and people around the world united in our joy and thankfulness that Finnish M.P. Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola were justly and unanimously found ‘not guilty.’ This decision is a victory for the God-given rights of free speech and religious expression both in Finland and across the globe,” Rep Roy said.
“But, the fact that there was even a prosecution is unacceptable and a reminder that we must remain vigilant in defense of our faith, our values, and the very unalienable rights that form the foundation of Western Civilization. God bless M.P. Räsänen, Bishop Pohjola, the lawyers at Alliance Defending Freedom International, and other organizations such as Family Research Council who took up their cause. Onward.”
In April 2021, Rev. Dr. Pohjola and Dr. Räsänen were both charged with “ethnic agitation” for expressing their traditional religious beliefs on what the Bible teaches about marriage. Dr. Räsänen faced additional prosecution for exercising freedom of speech in criticizing the state-backed Lutheran Church on theology and politics. The trial began on January 24th and final arguments occurred on February 14th. A unanimous verdict of “not guilty” was entered on March 30th.
Representative Roy has been an outspoken advocate for M.P. Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola, appearing on Fox News in support of their case and penning an op-ed with Tony Perkins of Family Research Council outlining the potential effects of a guilty verdict. Before the trial, Rep. Roy sent a letter of support to M.P. Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola and, last fall, he led a letter to the United States Commission of International Religious Freedom urging them to condemn the Finnish prosecution.