Juhana Pohjola

Rev Dr Juhana Pohjola, the Evangelical Lutheran Bishop in Finland, is facing trial in January for expressing traditional Christian teaching on human sexuality.

In April, Finland’s Prosecutor General charged him and the Christian Democrat MP Dr Päivi Räsänen with “incitement against a group of people” over the 2004 publication of a booklet which described sex outside of heterosexual marriage, including homosexual practice, as sinful.

Dr Räsänen was charged as the author of the booklet, while Bishop Pohjola was charged as the publisher.

Dr Pohjola is Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (ELMDF), a position to which he was elected earlier year.

He was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, the State Church, in 1999, but increasing pressure in that body against orthodox Lutherans led to the formation of the ELMDF in 2013. In response, the State Church defrocked him in 2014. Today the ELMDF has more than 45 congregations and mission sites throughout Finland.

Christian Today spoke to Dr Pohjola about his upcoming trial and the international concern about religious freedom which his prosecution has prompted.

CT: Your case has caused deep concern in the US with a group of scholars and several Congressmen calling on the American government to consider sanctions against Finland. How is the international support for you impacting on the media and the general public in Finland, to your knowledge?

JP: In Finland few people are using the word ‘persecution’ in our case. For media it is impossible to accept that somebody in Finland could be persecuted because Finland is a free modern country which is known for its rule of law.

The international support we have received is either overlooked by mainstream media in Finland or seen as alarmist.

Read the full interview on Christian Today