RELIGION BRIEFS – Daily Ardmoreite


Finnish court acquits MP in free speech case

HELSINKI — A Finnish court on Wednesday acquitted a Christian Democrat lawmaker and former interior minister of alleged incitement against gay people, in a case seen as an important precedent on the limits of free speech in the Nordic country.

The Helsinki District Court said in its ruling that while some of the public statements made by Paivi Rasanen, a former leader of the small Christian Democratic Party, were offensive to gay people, they did not constitute hate speech and did not fall within not outside free speech laws. .

“I am grateful to God and to all my supporters,” Rasanen told reporters after the verdict, adding that she was “very happy and relieved” about the decision. She said she didn’t mean to insult anyone with her statements like “I know some gay people and they’re just as valuable as me.”

In a trial that ended in February, Rasanen, a doctor well known in Finland for her religious beliefs and views against abortion and same-sex marriage, faced three separate counts of incitement against a minority group.

The charges were based on certain writings and media appearances by Rasanen between 2004 and 2019, in which prosecutors alleged she slandered gay people. Rasanen, who often cited the Bible to support his views, denied all the charges.

The Finnish court said that freedom of religion and freedom of expression are not unlimited in nature. However, limiting them would require a compelling social reason, he said, adding that ensuring the dignity and equality of sexual minorities may be such a reason in some cases.

The case has drawn attention in some European countries, such as Hungary, and in the United States where some politicians, including Republican Representative from Texas Chip Roy, and conservative Christian groups have pledged their support for Rasanen.

Finnish prosecutors have said they are likely to appeal the court’s decision.

Miami’s Zak the Baker is known for his kosher bread

MIAMI – Its name is synonymous with some of the best fresh breads in South Florida, and it’s now recognized as one of the best in the country.

Zak Stern – the Zak of Zak the Baker – has been named a finalist for the James Beard Award, which honors those working in the food industry with its prestigious awards.

Stern, born and raised in southern Miami-Dade County, had been named a semi-finalist in the Outstanding Baker category twice previously, in 2017 and 2018, for the kosher bakery he started in Wynwood, after bakes naturally leavened breads from her home and sell it around town at farmers markets.

Now his breads are available at Whole Foods Markets in South Florida.

It’s the first time Stern has been among the five finalists, which this year include winners from Chicago, Arizona, Maine and Montana. The winners will be named June 13 in a ceremony at the Lyric Opera in Chicago, at an event called the Food World Oscars.

Stern influenced an entire industry in South Florida. His proteges went on to open independent bakeries focused on artisan breads throughout South Florida.

Stern became the king of kosher baking in Miami even though he was raised culturally Jewish but not religious. But he believes in preserving Jewish culture through his food and has spent years in Israel and Italy learning to cook in the traditional way.


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