By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com October 22 2010 6:15 AM ET
Tens of thousands of people are estimated to have left the Finnish Evangelical-Lutheran Church because of antigay comments made during a televised debate last week.
According to the Helsinki Times, “The number leaving increased sharply on 12 October following the broadcast of a debate programme focused on gay rights on Network 2 of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle). By Monday 18 October, more than 24,000 people had left Finland’s Evangelical-Lutheran and Orthodox Churches.”
More than 5,000 people left the state church on Monday alone, likely a record for departures in a single day. Increasing numbers of middle-aged adults and women have joined the exodus.
Stefan Wallin, the nation's minister for church affairs, placed blame for the exodus on Päivi Räsänen, the leader of the Christian Democrats and a debate guest, who represents Christian values.