As a Christian, my understanding is that God created us with the gift of Free-Will. Some of us may question the wisdom of this from time to time, as most of us have made choices that we regret, but freedom was so important to God, that in His great love, He required that our love was also freely given. This gift He gave at great personal cost to Himself and great sacrifice. He gave Himself for this Freedom.
The consensus of democracy and good government has always been the exercise of this freedom – especially held dear in the Western World. Freedom to agree or disagree; freedom to hold one’s own beliefs; freedom to express those beliefs; freedom to practice one’s own religion; freedom to protest and demonstrate.
Of course one must not break the law of the land in the exercise of these freedoms. Though this is where the ground can become a shifting foundation. There are necessary laws against violence, hatred, discrimination, inciting hatred and other crimes against a person or a group of people. The key to safeguarding the fundamental human right to free-speech is in the interpretation of the charge of ‘inciting hatred’, or ‘hate-speech’. As a Christian the over-riding rule is always the law of love and mercy.
Today, Finnish Member of Parliament Päivi Räsänen will face a criminal trial because she tweeted a Bible verse about marriage and sexuality in a 2019 tweet, on a radio-show and in a 17 year old church pamphlet. The Bishop who published her pamphlet also faces trial.
According to an article by ADF, Räsänen is officially being prosecuted for the crime of ‘ethnic agitation’, under the section of ‘war crimes and crimes against humanity’ in the Finnish criminal code. A total of three criminal charges of ‘hate speech’ were brought against Räsänen in April 2021 by Finland’s Prosecutor General.
This is the government threatening prison and punishment for beliefs held by a large group of people. She could now be sentenced to two years in prison.
Does this disregard the fundamental right to freedom of speech?
Of course some people might be offended by Räsänen’s views and some may disagree with her choice of words. But is it about whether you agree or disagree with Räsänen’s statements? There are a great many viewpoints, opinions and beliefs held and expressed in the media, in literature and in human discourse that I find quite repulsive, offensive or some other negative reaction. But I vehemently defend the right of people to have and express those views in a free-society!
Is it not important that we have each a right to have our own opinions and to express them. If minority view points are offensive and punished, where are the safeguards against complete censorship and totalitarian control by powerful leadership?
Could any of us be confident that every sentence we have ever written, or recorded, was inoffensive to somebody? Is this censorship, or cancel-culture, something to be concerned about? Should we be silent or ‘politically correct’ for fear our truth may offend somebody, somewhere? Am I allowed to disagree with the government, or with popular opinion?
I include a short – 6 minute – explanation of the main points of the right to Freedom of Speech, made clearly by ADF, who say it more succinctly than I can.
I encourage you to defend the right to freedom of speech and freedom of belief and of religion. Please also pray for justice in our governments. Pray that we will all speak the truth in love.
Please feel free to disagree!
I include some links to other posts I have written on this subject:
https://wordpress.com/post/dawnfanshawe.wordpress.com/1040 Speak Up
https://wordpress.com/post/dawnfanshawe.wordpress.com/937 The Sun Still Shines