( – promoted by buhdydharma )
A strange thing has been happening…in Finland.
On October 12, there was a televised debate on the Finnish station YLE featuring Christian Democrat leader, Päivi Räsänen, Bishop of Tampere Matti Repo, True Finns’ MP Pentti Oinonen, pastor Leena Huovinen (who has blessed lesbian couples), openly gay Green League MP Oras Tynkkynen, board member of SETA (a Finnish GLBT organization) Manne Maalismaa and Mr. Gay Finland Kenneth Liukkonen.
With Ms. Räsänen saying things like
Obviously a person knows that if they are in a homosexual relationship they are doing something wrong from the Christian viewpoint.
and, in unison with Bishop Repo, called gay marriage and adoption “unnatural”.
Repo stated that we would never preside over a same-sex union.
It should be pointed out that GLBT enjoy almost all the same rights as straight people, with the exception of marriage and adoption rights. There is a state recognized partnership registry and partners may adopt each others offspring, but not children who are unrelated by birth.
220 people quit the state Church (the Evangelic Lutheran Church) during the television program itself. The church in Finland is a national church and the average member pays €250 in church tax, collected by the state. There is a website, eroakirkosta.fi, which helps citizens formally resign from the church…so they won’t have to pay the tax.
The current number of resignations is estimated to be about 30,000.
Archbishop Kari Mäkinen has distanced the Evangelical-Lutheran Church from the anti-gay comments expressed by some of its more conservative members.
In comments to the commercial Finnish television channel Nelonen, Mäkinen said that the opinions expressed by people such as Christian Democrat leader were solely their own, and not those of the church.
“It’s clear to me that no person should be treated disparagingly on any grounds,” he said.
Mäkinen told Nelonen: “During this current exodus the message I’ve been hearing is that the Church should defend the rights of all people. I take that very seriously.”
He added that church personnel should be given clear and binding instructions as soon as possible on the ceremony for blessing registered partnerships, for example.
Justice Minister Tuija Brax (Greens) requested a study into same-sex marriage in
July. Brax’s party – a member of the Centre-led governing coalition – aims to have a gender-neutral marriage act included in the next government programme.
Minister of Culture Stefan Wallin stated that
if Räsänen’s purpose was to turn the clock back and reduce congregation numbers, she should state her intention directly. He added Räsänen should not duck the consequences when her selective view of humanity influenced both the reputation and economy of the church.
Typically, Räsänen blamed the resignations on the media. Other sources think it is more likely that the public just didn’t understand the vitriol coming from the church until now.
Räsänen claims to be a moderate on the issue.