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Home NATIONAL“Religious abuse still major problem in Finland”
Tue, 28 Apr, 2015 12:09:01 AM
FTimes – STT Report, April 28
Aini Linjakumpu spoke book publication ceremony in Helsinki on Monday. Photo Lehtikuva.
Religious abuse is still a major problem in Finland, according to an assessment by University of Lapland political science Professor Aini Linjakumpu. 
She delves into the topic in a new book called Religious Shadows (Uskonnon varjot), published by Vastapaino.
“It is mental or physical violence, justified by religious perspectives or perpetrated by members of the religious community,” said the researcher to explain what religious abuse means.
The accusation of abuse here is not an exaggeration: religious communities’ claims for the right to these methods can sometimes be more powerful than decisions made by secular legal institutions.
Linjakumpu admits that it’s difficult to draw the line where religious freedom begins. 
University of Lapland Professor Emeritus of criminal law Terttu Utriainen offers his perspective on the limits of religious freedom: “Legal standards define the minimum limits for society.
Therefore, it can be said that if a religious community violates those minimum limits, it has gone too far.”
Religious abuse is often subtle. It can be difficult to pin down. The forms it takes can also be varied.
“Religious abuse can inhibit the realization of sexuality or limit one’s life to strictly defined areas. It may also include economic exploitation, as well as physical violence,” Linjakumpu said.
According to the researcher, the abuse can even be life threatening in some cases. If one decides to leave the religious community, losing one’s entire family and all his or her friends may be at stake.
Espoo Bishop Tapio Luoma, who was also present on the occasion, said it is natural that a community focuses on the issues that hold it together.
“In some (religious) communities, there is a focus on controlling what is and isn’t allowed. That same energy could instead be directed at the positive message at the core of the faith.”
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