In Poland, Catholics go to war against Behemoth’s Nergal — for giving Satanism a voice

Catholic leaders in Poland took Nergal to court after he tore up a Bible on stage. Nergal won, but the fight isn’t over.

Catholic leaders in Poland, which has been a stronghold of Catholicism since World War II, have been on the warpath. Their target? Adam Darski, also known as Nergal, frontman for the Polish metal band Behemoth.

In 2007, a group called the All-Polish Committee for Defence against Sects circulated to political leaders a list of bands the committee claimed “promote Satanism.” The committee and its leader, Ryszard Nowak, hoped leaders would ban performances by these groups. They didn’t.

That same year, during a performance in the Polish city of Gdynia, Nergal destroyed a Bible and called the Catholic Church “the most murderous cult on the planet.” As he tore up the Bible, he said, “they call it the Holy Book. I call this the book of lies. Fuck the shit, fuck the hypocrisy.”

You can view the act, at roughly the 45-second mark, in this video:

You can’t hear about this without thinking of Sinead O’Connor tearing up a photograph of the Pope on Saturday Night Live in 1992. Even in America, where such acts have been protected for centuries, O’Connor’s move touched off a major controversy that damaged her career permanently.

The All-Polish Committee for Defence against Sects took Nergal to court over the Bible-tearing incident, claiming he “offended religious feeling.” On August 18 of this year, a Polish judge ruled that Nergal’s destruction of a Bible during a show was a form of artistic expression consistent with Behemoth’s style.

In a statement on the band’s web site, Nergal wrote, “I’m so glad to see that intelligence won over religious fanatics in my home country. Tho there’s still so much work to be done to make things right. But I’m sure that I’m on the right path to ultimate freedom! The battle is won, but the war ain’t over. Heil Satan!”

Of course, that wasn’t the end of it. Darski is starring in The Voice of Poland, a reality-TV show in which celebrities assist in the search for an outstanding singer. That offended Bishop Wieslaw Mering, head of the diocese of Wlocawek in northern Poland, who urged Polish television to pull the program from the air:

“A blasphemer, Satanist and lover of evil incarnate has the screen of public television at his disposal, and thus he will be able to spread his poisonous teachings more easily,” the bishop declared in a statement. “Non possumus! [This cannot be!].”

The Association of Catholic Journalists has circulated Mering’s statement.

Freedom of speech is a very new protection in Poland; censorship was abolished in 1990, while freedom of speech was officially added to the constitution in 1997. Freedom of religion, however, has been guaranteed by law in Poland since 1573. Of course, the same freedom of speech that protects Nergal’s right to criticize the Catholic Church also protects the Catholic Church’s right to criticize Nergal, his on-stage performances, and his negative views on Catholicism.

This whole situation is a reminder that, to many, Satanism is not a legitimate faith; it is one to be scorned, maligned, and silenced. Fortunately, Nergal is not backing down from the limelight. Particularly in his role on The Voice of Poland, he dresses pretty much like an everyday guy. Such visibility on what is likely to be a widely viewed television program, for someone who is a known Satanist, will hopefully show viewers that Satanists are normal, everyday people.

Readers, do you know any Satanists? What, if anything, have you learned about Satanism from spending time with them? Have your feelings on the faith changed because of it?

EDIT: As of October 17, Adam Darski has been forced to leave Voice of Poland. Read the update here:


8 responses to “In Poland, Catholics go to war against Behemoth’s Nergal — for giving Satanism a voice

  1. Once again the church imposes their WILL. If he had destroyed a Satanic Bible they would have asked him to be a guest speaker next Sunday. Freedom of speech and other human rights only apply if you are a member of the “Holy Club”.

    Hypocrisy never goes out of fashion.


  2. Hm… so Thelema and Satanism are the same thing now? Cuz uh… Nergal and Behemoth has never been a Satanic band in general.

    They’re pretty clearly Thelemites (at least he is)… but then again I guess that anything but complacent, utter submission to the state religion is seen as a threat that must be disposed of by and and all means neccessary.

    You stay classy, Poland. The bounds of religious intolerance and censorship against other cultures never ceases to amaze me.

    • Thanks — I agree that’s an important distinction. I’d seen several references to Nergal being Satanic (including his “Hail/Heil Satan” in the video), but none regarding his involvement in Thelema. Given some of his interests, though, as well as his friendship with fellow Thelemite Carl McCoy of Fields of the Nephilim, it makes sense.

  3. Pingback: A new Satanic Panic comes alive in Lebanon | Backward Messages

  4. Pingback: “Satanic” singer booted from Polish reality TV show | Backward Messages

  5. Satanism, Thelema or any religion or faith in gods or spirits or magick, is silly. But I love Behemoth and Nergal and would defend his right to freedom of speech and artistic expression to the end. Just as I would defend the right of the Catholic church, or any organization, to voice their opinion. The problem comes when either side claims to be right. The only right way is the one which respects the freedom of all to agree to disagree. It is useless to argue about things that don’t really exist anyway. And as the Vegan Black Metal Chef would say, “Hail Seitan”. Yum! \m/

  6. Pingback: Polish Catholics oppose “Demon” energy drink — and bone-marrow donation? | Backward Messages

  7. Pingback: Polish metaller faces jail over Bible-tearing | Backward Messages

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