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Culture Friday: Free speech wins at the Finnish line


WORLD Radio - Culture Friday: Free speech wins at the Finnish line

Plus, a British infant is denied medical care for the sake of efficiency and liberal responses to Speaker Mike Johnson’s purity accountability

Päivi Räsänen Alliance Defending Freedom International

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday the 17th of November, 2023. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s Culture Friday. Joining us now is John Stonestreet, the president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint Podcast. John, good morning.


EICHER: A not-guilty verdict in Finland. We don’t typically cover those. But because of the nature of the charges, we do in this case. A member of the Finland Parliament by the name of Päivi Räsänen found herself on trial this summer for hate speech. The hate speech in particular you’d probably know in other contexts as the word of God. A verse in the Bible. Although, to be fair, the state prosecutor in the case allowed, and I’ll quote here from a translation, of what she said in court: “You can cite the Bible, but it is Räsänen’s interpretation and opinion about the Bible verses that are criminal.”

Well, the court said otherwise. The bottom line is that Päivi Räsänen—we’ve talked about her case here—is found not guilty.

John, she didn’t back down, not even a little bit, and she won. Good news, I’ve got to believe.

STONESTREET: Well, it is good news. I think it destroys at least to some degree, this inevitability narrative that we often hear that it's going to get worse and worse and worse and there's nothing we can do about it, so it doesn't make any difference if we stand up and that sort of thing. I think we hear that more and more in various forms in an increasingly secular world. I mean, you hear it, for example, in sociology that the world is getting more and more secular, rather than more and more religious. What a remarkable piece you know, this week, when Ayaan Hirsi Ali described her embrace of Christianity, or at least a Christian framework, and one of the things she pointed to is that, you know, the world's not getting more rational, it's getting less rational and more attracted to fantasies. And that's an aspect to deny this inevitability narrative that this completely rational, secular view of the world is going to be triumphant and take out Christianity and that sort of thing. We need not believe that.

The fact that secularism is more rational is something else we ought not believe, which was really, I think, illustrated in some of the accusations against Räsänen, for her prosecutors, for example, to say, oh, no, it's okay to quote the Bible, it's just not okay to have your interpretation of the Bible. Well, she quoted a Bible verse, you know, in other words, it was the straightforward reading of it, which means then that you have to superimpose an increasingly secularized interpretation on the text as if that's the only real way to read it. And that really is where hyper-secularism leads. It's an oppressive thought control experiment, which we're seeing in other nations, not the least of which Britain where we've had people arrested for thought crimes and for silent prayers, all of which of course undermine true freedom, and the claim that it is Christianity that gets in the way of freedom, rather than kind of a secularized tyranny.

It's just back to front, upside down. And then lastly, Räsänen, really, I think, has helped bring all of these things to light. And that's a real service. I would never sign up for this service, given what she's gone through in the last four years. You know, we shouldn't wish this kind of calling, like what has been experienced by her, Jack Phillips, Baronnelle Stutzman and others, but they really do a real service when they're willing to stand up. And of course, ADF does a real service as well in coming to their defense. So it's a huge win. It can't be overstated. It's just a very, very important thing to get these charges dismissed and to have her exonerated.

EICHER: Well, John, I thought when you brought up Britain, you were going to mention little Indi Gregory. Here’s a case where the girl’s parents didn’t back down, but they lost in the worst possible way. They’d gotten into an unwinnable argument with the UK’s government health system and were denied the right to seek treatment elsewhere. Italy, to be exact, where she could’ve gotten treatment, even if it was futile.

But we’ll never know, because the little girl died this week. Your thoughts?

STONESTREET: It just is one of those examples of "it'll never happen," and then it happens. You know, the idea that somehow expanding quote, unquote, the "freedom" to choose death suddenly will not become the targeting of the most vulnerable. This isn't the only story in Britain's history that resembles this. This was as tragic as they get. In a rational world we would call this a kidnapping, we would call this killing, we would call this the abdication of the duty of the government to protect citizens and individuals, and the abdication of responsibility of hospitals and doctors to provide health care, which is what they're supposed to do, that they got their job exactly backwards, which is supposed to be help, never harm, and instead they harmed instead of helping. But that's the sort of thing that happens in a culture whose narrative is upside down, where wrong means right and life means death. And we don't have any definition of human value and human dignity to begin with. Words start meaning different things.

So Indi Gregory was called hopeless, initially, of course, when that sort of language is used to pass a law that allows this sort of thing to take place, because someone has a condition that they're going to die from imminently. Because care has to be extraordinary. And we see all of these definitions just continually move. What is extreme measures, what's considered that I mean, we remember, for example, in our own country, when it came to Terri Shaivo, extreme measures, which is what we were totally keeping her alive was basically food and water just happened to be through a tube. I don't know all the specifics of Indi Gregory. But I know their heartbreak is great, and good for her parents for doing the best that they could. And they should be remembered as being heroic in the cause of their daughter. And I pray that it will start the kind of hard conversations that we need to have over the rights of children over who they ultimately belong to, certainly not this hospital, and certainly not the state. And what does it mean for us to be as compassionate as we say we are?

BROWN: John, we knew it was coming. Rolling Stone Magazine rolled out this article: here’s the headline, “Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson admits he and his son monitor each other’s porn intake.”

What is he thinking??? Attempting to keep his son away from internet porn by using an accountability software, and then holding himself by the same standard?

You've used this phrase a couple of times, back to front upside down. This sounds exactly like what the prophet Isaiah warned us about, doesn't it, calling evil “good” and good “evil”?

STONESTREET: Oh, yeah. I mean, I don't know what was worse. The Rolling Stone headline with his kind of gotcha tagline is if what the speaker was doing was somehow crazy. And you know, and I couldn't even tell whether they were trying to accuse him of being puritanical, or something else. Certainly a lot of the people who responded, I'm thinking here, Keith Olbermann, in particular, he accused speaker Johnson of grooming his son, as if monitoring the son's intake of pornography with some sort of perverted thing. Literally, this is something of course, that the speaker has freely admitted as have many other people. The idea of accountability partners isn't not a very difficult thing for the Rolling Stone journalists to have figured out. I mean, this is something that is a pretty common thing, by the way, not only in church, but also like in a and all the other sort of groups that help people overcome addictions. Not to mention, there's no question remaining any more that porn use is addictive, and what it does to the brain, and that it's not good for people. And this is stuff that's being published, you know, widely in secular magazine. So this was just lazy. And it was clearly a hit job in a way that makes no sense at all.

So I don't think it had the effect that they wanted it to. I don't think a whole lot of people really paid attention to it. If they did, most people kind of quickly saw what it was, which was just kind of an article that completely ignored things they could have known. But you know, all of this is part of something that journalist Terry Mattingly, at Get Religion has pointed out, which is it is very possible for people in elite circles, I'm thinking universities, and certainly the elite institutions of journalism and media, doesn't ever talk to a Christian who have never met one, then to kind of assume things that they don't know. I think it exposed the motive of the publication, the motive of the author. And look at this is weird now, for fathers to keep their sons accountable for what they see for what goes into their hearts and minds. Well as Tom Holland, the historian said, when asked I think by Douglas Murray, about the advice that he would give Christians in light of what he had studied in the history of the church, interacting with a pagan culture, Stay weird. Now, this isn't weird, but if it's called weird, Stay weird.

BROWN: Bring on the weird! John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast. Thanks, John!

STONESTREET: Thank you both.

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