In a foreshadowing of America’s future under coercive secularism, a Finnish politician and Finnish bishop will go on criminal trial next week for merely upholding historic Christian teaching on sexual morality. The trial is a telling measure of the erosion of Christianity in Europe. Juhana Pohjola, a Lutheran bishop, and Päivi Räsänen, a member of Finland’s Parliament, stand accused of an act increasingly forbidden in the de-Christianized West: quoting the Bible.
“According to the nation’s top prosecutor, the two people are accused of violating the equality and dignity of LGBT people,” reports Christianity Today. Simply quoting the Bible’s condemnation of sexual immorality is now sufficient to qualify as a “hate crime” in Finland. What Christianity has always taught — hate the sin, but love the sinner — is no longer permissible in the eyes of Finnish authorities. They say that Pohjola and Räsänen are guilty of “ethnic agitation” — an absurdly vague charge they would never dream of applying to members of any other religion besides Christianity.
Six Republican members of Congress have called on the U.S. government’s religious commission to condemn Finland for this trial. But that will never happen.
After Räsänen quoted from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans in a tweet, she found herself under police interrogation for 13 hours. She has said that the interrogation felt like “Soviet times,” but that she enjoyed “giving Bible studies to the police”: “I had many times during these hours the possibility to tell to the police the message of the Gospel, what the Bible teaches about the value of human beings, that all people are created in the image of God and that is why they all are valuable.”
Pohjola, who published a pamphlet in defense of Christian sexual morality written by Räsänen and refused to withdraw it under pressure from the state, has noted that the case exposes the fraudulence of postmodernism’s pieties about tolerance. Liberals used to quote Voltaire and other defenders of free speech and free religion. But they don’t anymore. Now they treat those who dissent from political correctness as “morally evil,” he says. Secularists have in effect redefined freedom of religion as freedom from religion, particularly Christianity.
The Finnish authorities, of course, would never prosecute followers of Islam for statements deriving from the Koran. Europe’s secularists revere that book, even as they treat a view rooted in the Bible as a hate crime. Nor would the Finns prosecute the entertainment industry for its routine artistic blasphemies against Christianity. But they will persecute conscientious adherents to Europe’s historic religion. Should they prevail against Räsänen and Pohjola, the practice of Christianity will have become officially criminal in Finland.
Six Republican members of Congress have called on the U.S. government’s religious commission to condemn Finland for this trial. But that will never happen. The secularists of the Biden administration favor the mistreatment of Christians. Biden and his aides share the same essential outlook as Finland’s government — that Christians are bad citizens and don’t belong in the public square. While Biden, for political reasons, can’t get away with criminalizing Christianity yet, he is doing everything he can to drive traditional Christians from government.
From hounding out of service Christian chaplains and soldiers to barring Christian adoption agencies access to federal funds, the Biden administration is steadily advancing a secularism utterly hostile to the founding origins of America. Unlike the French revolution, which viewed Christianity as an impediment to progress and forced Christians to bow to the “goddess of reason,” the American revolutionaries saw the practice of Christianity as essential to a civilized society. Biden’s imagined America, like today’s Finland, follows in the tradition of the French revolution.
When Obama and Biden first ran together and referred to themselves as revolutionaries who would fundamentally transform America, few bothered to ask: To what revolutionary tradition were they appealing? It wasn’t the God-fearing revolution of America’s Founding Fathers, for whom the legitimacy of government rests on respect for God-given rights, but to the revolution of anti-Christian secularists in France, for whom “good” government advanced by suppressing those rights.
The “liberalism” of the French revolution was always illiberal and intolerant. It was expressed best not by the platitudes of Voltaire but by the bellowing cry of the Parisian intellectual Denis Diderot, who said, “Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”
Today’s intellectual children of the French revolution don’t put their view quite so brutally, but their attitude lends itself to something approaching the extinction of Christianity: that men will not be free until Christianity is criminalized. Today’s secularists see freedom and Christianity in stark competition, with freedom only growing if Christianity shrinks.
From this twisted view came the treatment of Christians as the worst citizens, not the best ones. And that’s why two Bible-quoting Christians find themselves on trial in Finland. Americans should pay attention to it. The trial is a glimpse of America’s future if Biden’s secularism isn’t stopped.
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