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COMMENTARY: Silencing of conservatives

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In June 2019, the Lutheran Church in Finland decided to support the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender (LGBT) event, “Pride 2019." In response, Dr. Paivi Rasanen, an active member of the Finnish Lutheran Church and wife of a Finnish Luther Pastor, decided to offer her dissenting views from a biblical perspective.

Finnish prosecutors decided to prosecute Paivi for her comments and Tweet to the church in April 2021. As ADF International described the case, “The Medical Doctor, mother of five, and grandmother of six is accused of having engaged in ‘hate speech’ for publicly voicing her opinion on marriage and human sexuality.”

Rasanen’s persecution offers a window into a potential future for America, but also offers the solution for conservatives who love freedom. Let me explain.

First, for those who aren’t aware, Finland is extremely “progressive." It has been ranked as “the most socially progressive nation in the world” (UK Independent from reporting the Social Progress Initiative). Though not quite socialist, it’s about as close as it comes. Over a third of Finland’s wealth is owned by the government, and over a quarter of the workforce works in the public sector.

It goes beyond most nations in government control over production and vital industries. The level of control is well beyond that of the United States, though with the same type of constitutional protections, like freedom of speech and religion. Dr. Rasanen’s prosecution can occur due to both overweening government power and also the ubiquity of progressivism in stifling freedom.

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According to The Christian Post, “Rasanen has been charged with three counts of ethnic agitation over statements expressing her beliefs about human sexuality and marriage." This is a case in which progressive “rights” not to be “agitated” have trumped Christian and conservative rights of speech and practice of religion.

Rasanen’s statement opposing this prosecution was succinct but powerful: “I will defend my right to confess my faith, so that no one else would be deprived of their right to freedom of religion and speech. ... I will not back down from my views. I will not be intimidated into hiding my faith. The more Christians keep silent on controversial themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech gets.”

Considering Jesus himself defined marriage as between one man and one woman (“For this reason, a man will leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”), a Christian must now repudiate Jesus Christ or face jail time in Finland.

Rasanen’s assertion about Christian silence narrowing the space for freedom of speech becomes both warning and advice to American conservatives. We have seen similar abuses of government power against perceived opponents of progressive totalitarianism in America.

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In the recent Virginia governor’s election, the critical issue became harmful progressive ideology in Virginia schools, like CRT. Parents found it being forced on school children against their wishes. In response to the growing parental backlash against this progressive totalitarianism in schools directed at school boards, the Biden administration coordinated with the National School Board Association in drafting a letter to the attorney general’s office.

Evidence has since shown the attorney general coordinated with developing the language of the letter. Merrick Garland then referenced this letter in a memorandum for the DOJ and FBI to investigate the parents, which was made public to scare parents. In the end, the genesis of the letter was discovered, and Garland was hauled before Congress to answer. Regardless, it was but one example of the use of powers of government to counter those opposing progressivism in America.

This was not a single case of this sort of intimidation, as the various arms of the Biden administration have been chilling and prosecuting conservative speech this past year. This includes threats against all those who supported President Donald Trump, not just Jan. 6 rioters, and the associated “America First” agenda. As with parents at school boards, insinuations of domestic terrorism or white supremacy are becoming common.

The way to fight back is also within Rasanen’s quote. Simply put, it is refusing to be intimidated and silenced. Unfortunately for Rasanen, the number of conservatives in Finland, particularly those willing to speak out, is insignificant.

Therefore, despite the Finnish constitutional protection of free speech, the narrowing of free speech has come to a point in which a Christian cannot even quote Jesus Christ. In America, the number of conservatives is much larger and outspoken. What Rasanen warns is that conservatives must continue exercising free speech, and refuse to give in to intimidation.

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Progressive totalitarianism is a tough opponent, as it has captured much of the mass media, entertainment and even huge swaths of government. Progressivism aims to demoralize conservatives into silence and acquiescence by constantly stigmatizing and demeaning anything traditional. Fighting back and refusing to submit is within the power of conservatives, though can come with sacrifices which must be endured.

The refusal to compromise is a duty when the demands to compromise are not in good faith. It’s time we follow Dr. Rasanen’s warning and admonition and refuse to be silenced or intimidated. It’s time to take our nation back.

Bill Connor, a retired Army Infantry colonel, author and Orangeburg attorney, has deployed multiple times to the Middle East. Connor was the senior U.S. military adviser to Afghan forces in Helmand Province, where he received the Bronze Star. A Citadel graduate with a JD from USC, he is also a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Army War College, earning his master of strategic studies. He is the author of the book "Articles from War.”

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