On Saturday July 31st from 1pm to 5pm, a demonstration was held at the Embassy of Finland in Washington DC to call on the Finnish Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen to
immediately drop charges against Dr. Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola, who are being charged with hate crimes because of their faith, and because they hold to a biblical view on marriage between one man and one woman. Furthermore, these indictments were filed even after a Finnish police investigation had shown that no crimes were committed, which attests to the political nature of the indictment. Both Räsänen and Pohjola face two years in prison for these charges. According to Dr. Räsänen, the trial is expected to take place in November.
The rally featured Mr. Tim Goeglein of Focus on the Family, Rev. Dr. Dennis R. Di Mauro of Trinity Lutheran Church, Warrenton, VA, Rev. Dr. Greg Seltz, executive director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty; and Rev. James Douthwaite, pastor of St. Athanasius Lutheran Church, Vienna, VA; and many others. Statements were also read from Bishop Dan Selbo of the North American Lutheran Church, Richard Viguerie of Conservative HQ, the Alliance Defense Fund, the International Lutheran Council, U.S. Intellectuals to the Commission on Int’l Religious Freedom, and many other organizations.
Protesters held signs that read “Tweeting a Bible Verse is not a Crime,” and “Everyone has the Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience, and Religion,” and invited honks from supporters driving through the heart of DC. They also enjoyed discussions with interested passersby.
During the rally, Dr. Seltz met with Pasi Rajala, the embassy press advisor, for discussions. He also received a letter of response from the ambassador, Mikko Hautala.
The event was livestreamed on Facebook Live and can be watched at https://www.facebook.com/dennis.d.mauro/videos/521305642478618 The rally has had over a thousand views from observers all over the world, the majority being Finnish.
The protesters ask that everyone pray for the softening of the heart on Finnish Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen so that she will drop all charges. If the charges are not dropped, the organizers are planning another rally before the trial in November.
Finnish Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen
Dr. Päivi Räsänen
Bishop Juhana Pohjola
Tim Goeglein of Focus on the Family
Rev. Dr. Dennis R. Di Mauro of Trinity Lutheran Church
Rev. Dr. Greg Seltz
Rev. James Douthwaite
Ambassador Mikko Hautala