Päivi Räsänen

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Päivi Räsänen
Päivi Räsänen 2015.jpg
Räsänen in 2015
Minister of the Interior of Finland
In office
22 June 2011 – 29 May 2015
Prime MinisterJyrki Katainen
Alexander Stubb
Preceded byAnne Holmlund
Succeeded byPetteri Orpo
Member of the Finnish Parliament
Assumed office
Chairperson of the Finnish Christian Democrats
In office
October 2, 2004 (2004-10-02) – August 28, 2015
Preceded byBjarne Kallis
Succeeded bySari Essayah
Personal details
Born (1959-12-19) December 19, 1959 (age 60)
Sonkajärvi, Northern Savonia, Finland
Political partyChristian Democrats
ProfessionLicentiate in Medicine
WebsiteOfficial website

Päivi Maria Räsänen, née Kuvaja (born December 19, 1959, in Sonkajärvi, Finland[1]), is a Finnish politician. The chairwoman of the Christian Democrats from 2004 to 2015, she was the Minister of the Interior of Finland between 2011 and 2015.[2]

A physician by education, Räsänen entered politics in the early 1990s, running for parliament in 1991. She has been in the Riihimäki City Council since 1993, and in the Finnish Parliament since 1995. She was elected the chairperson of the Christian Democrats in October 2, 2004.[3] Following the government formation after the 2011 election, which led to the Christian Democrats joining the government, Räsänen was nominated by the party as the Minister of the Interior in the 72nd Finnish Cabinet led by Jyrki Katainen,[4] and she was inaugurated along with the government on June 22, 2011.[2]

Career and political positions[edit]

Räsänen has been characterized as a conservative. In 2004, she authored a small theological booklet concerning sexual related topics.[5] In 2020, the head of a church body which distributed the booklet was investigated for incitement under 2011 changes to a minority protection law.[6]

On October 12, 2010, Räsänen was one of the participants on a live TV debate on Ajankohtainen kakkonen's Homoilta special, with the topic of same-sex marriage and LGBT rights. The program was followed by an unprecedented exodus from the Evangelical Lutheran Church — in a few weeks, nearly 40,000 members left the Church through the website eroakirkosta.fi.[7][8] Räsänen was on the show representing her party and herself as a Christian individual along with five other opponents of gay marriage, but the resignations were specifically attributed to her by the media in general and then-Minister of Culture and Sports Stefan Wallin.[9] Räsänen thinks homosexual acts are a sin[10] and she herself does not consider her views "specifically extreme".[11]

When interviewed by Ylioppilaslehti on October 29, 2010, Räsänen said that she would favor Christians over Muslims when selecting asylum seekers to Finland due, in her opinion, to Muslims' "difficulties to adjust to the Finnish culture".[12] Her comments were condemned as "incomprehensible and merciless" by then-Minister of Migration and European Affairs Astrid Thors and then-Minister of Culture and Sports Stefan Wallin.[13] Räsänen responded to the criticism, saying her comments were misinterpreted, since she did not consider religion as the main criterion for asylum seekers' admissions, but instead she wanted to highlight the benefits of refugees' integration through religious connections.[14] In practice, as minister in charge of immigration affairs Räsänen has advocated for increasing the number of refugees taken in by Finland, especially from Syria.[15]

In September 2012 Räsänen appointed a religiously conservative applicant, considered less qualified by the media, among six candidates to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior Affairs, which created considerable debate, especially as she had previously condemned political appointments of government officials.[16]

In 2019 she was investigated for incitement after criticizing the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland's official participation in Pride celebration events.[17]

Stance on abortion[edit]

She is pro-life on abortion. She has made statements on the matter, since she is Minister of the Interior, that led a number of Finns to leave the Lutheran church of Finland via an online service in July 2013.[18] Räsänen contrasted abortion law to animal protection law saying that the latter gives better protection for animals than the former does to humans (fetuses):

"The law on animal protection gives better protection to an animal about to be put down than the law on abortion does to an unborn child. It is forbidden to cause the animal pain when slaughtering it, but no one dares to even discuss the painfulness of abortion. Abortion is defended on the grounds that the fetus is not a human person, even though it is a biological human individual from the moment of conception."[19]

In total 6,500 persons left the church in the first six days following the controversy, while the average number had been 70 persons a day prior to it.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Räsänen is married and has five children. She lives in Riihimäki.[1] Räsänen is a physician and holds a Licentiate of Medicine.


  1. ^ a b "Päivi Räsänen". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Sanoma News. April 11, 2009. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Ms Päivi Räsänen is the New Minister of the Interior". Ministry of the Interior. June 22, 2011. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  3. ^ "Räsänen nousi kristillisdemokraattien johtoon" (in Finnish). MTV3. Suomen Tietotoimisto. October 2, 2004. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  4. ^ Laitinen, Joonas (June 18, 2011). "Kristillisten Päivi Räsänen ottaa vastuun maahanmuuttoasioista". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Sanoma News. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  5. ^ Male and Female He Created Them by Päivi Räsänen, Lutheran Heritage Foundation, Macomb, Michigan
  6. ^ Leader of evangelical Lutheran churches investigated for distribution of booklet on homosexuality, Evangelical Focus, February 12, 2020
  7. ^ Seppälä, Olli (November 2, 2010). "Homoillan jälkeen yli 40 000 eronnut kirkosta" (in Finnish). Kotimaa-yhtiöt. Archived from the original on November 6, 2010. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  8. ^ "Yli 56 000 eronnut tänä vuonna – Homoillan jälkeen 30 000 eroamista" (in Finnish). Vakaumusten tasa-arvo. October 20, 2010. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  9. ^ "Wallin: Räsänen ei voi paeta vastuutaan". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Sanoma News. Suomen Tietotoimisto. October 17, 2010. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  10. ^ Pirhonen, Kalle (October 18, 2010). "Päivi Räsänen aamu-tv:ssä: "Homoseksuaalisuuden harjoittaminen on syntiä"". Ilta-Sanomat (in Finnish). Sanoma News. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  11. ^ "Räsänen ei pidä homokommenttejaan erityisen jyrkkinä". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Sanoma News. Suomen Tietotoimisto. October 15, 2010. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  12. ^ Manner, Maria (October 29, 2010). "Konservatiivien kuningatar". Ylioppilaslehti (in Finnish). Student Union of the University of Helsinki. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  13. ^ "Wallin ja Thors: Räsäsen pakolaispuheet käsittämättömiä". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Sanoma News. Suomen Tietotoimisto. October 29, 2010. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  14. ^ "Räsänen: Tulkinta pakolaispuheista yksiviivainen". Turun Sanomat (in Finnish). TS-Yhtymä. Suomen Tietotoimisto. October 29, 2010. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  15. ^ Sisäministeri Räsänen ottaisi Suomeen 300 kiintiöpakolaista lisää ensi vuonna, YLE 9 July 2014, accessed 9 July 2014
  16. ^ "Nergin nimitys oli tyylipuhtaasti, läpeensä poliittinen". Karjalainen (in Finnish). Pohjois-Karjalan Kirjapaino. September 8, 2012. Archived from the original on September 11, 2012. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  17. ^ Finnish Christian MP under incitement investigation for quoting the New Testament by Samuli Siikavirta, Evangelical Focus, September 2, 2019
  18. ^ Räsänen’s comments cause spike in church resignations yle 11.7.2013
  19. ^ ((in Finnish): “Eläinsuojelulaki antaa paremman suojan lopetettavalle eläimelle kuin aborttilaki syntymättömälle lapselle. Eläimelle ei saa teurastettaessa tuottaa kipua, mutta abortin kivuliaisuudesta ei uskalleta edes keskustella. Aborttia puolustetaan sillä, että sikiö ei ole ihmispersoona, vaikka onkin hedelmöityksestä lähtien biologinen ihmisyksilö”) Räsänen's speech
  20. ^ Räsäs-kohun aikana yli 6500 eronnut kirkosta Kaleva 17.7.2013

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Anne Holmlund
Minister of the Interior of Finland
June 22, 2011 —
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bjarne Kallis
Chairperson the Finnish Christian Democrats
October 2, 2004 —
Succeeded by