According to The Associated Press, vocalist/guitarist Adam “Nergal” Darski of Polish extreme metallers BEHEMOTH was found innocent of offending religious feelings in connection with a September 2007 incident when he reportedly called the Catholic Church “the most murderous cult on the planet” during the band’s performance in Gdynia and tore up a copy of the Bible, calling it “a book of lies” (see video below).
A Polish judge ruled earlier today (Thursday, August 18) that Darski‘s ripping up of a Bible during a show was a form of artistic expression consistent with the style of his band.
Judge Krzysztof Wieckowski said he considered Darski‘s actions “a form of art.” He added that the court had no intention of limiting freedom of expression or the right to criticize religion.
The court said audience members who testified said their religious feelings had not been hurt despite the fact they were Christians.
Darski‘s case had already been considered by the District Court in Gdynia. At the end of June last year, that court dismissed the case after determining that no crime had occurred. The prosecution subsequently filed an appeal and in September last year, the Gdansk Regional Court ordered the case to be reheard.
After the September 2007 incident, Ryszard Nowak, head of the All-Polish Committee for Defense Against Sects sued BEHEMOTH for promoting Satanism. Although a court expert witness on religious matters said that the act of destroying the Holy Bible could offend somebody’s religious feelings, the case was discontinued because no one except Nowak accused BEHEMOTH of insulting their religious beliefs. (Under Polish law, there must be at least two formal complaints before a charge is laid. The previous complaint was made in 2008, and recently an unspecified number of other complaints had been filed.)
In a 2009 interview with Decibel magazine, BEHEMOTH bassist Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski explained that the Bible-tearing incident was by no means a spontaneous outburst. “We’d been doing that for two years on tour before it happened in Poland,” he said. “So, we had discussed it many times before. A BEHEMOTH show is a BEHEMOTH show, and BEHEMOTH fans are coming to a BEHEMOTH show. BEHEMOTH fans know what BEHEMOTH is about, know what the lyrics are about, and know at least a little of the philosophy behind the band. So, it’s kind of surprising that there are people coming to the shows and feeling offended with what we do onstage. If such a person comes to a show, he comes with the purpose of being offended, I guess, and it shouldn’t be like that. We’re not offending any particular person. We’re just offending the religion that we’ve been raised in.”
BEHEMOTH‘s Adam “Nergal” Darski tearing up the Bible: