Behemoth frontman Adam “Nergal” Darski has been convicted of “offending religious feelings” in his home country of Poland. The charges stemmed from a 2019 social media post that appears to show Nergal’s foot stomping on a painting of the Virgin Mary.
According to Notes From Poland, Nergal was ordered to pay a fine of 15,000 złoty (approximately $4,000) and court costs of almost 3,500 zloty (approximately $942). However, the case will go on trial since Nergal is contesting the ruling. If found guilty at the trial, the metal musician faces up to two years in prison.
As the frontman of a blasphemous extreme metal band, the social media post in question is par for Nergal. However, due to the musician’s pseudo-celebrity status in the devoutly Catholic country, especially following his appearance as a judge on a popular vocal talent show, Nergal’s actions have attracted increased scrutiny.
After Nergal made the Virgin Mary post, a conservative legal group Ordo Iuris and an organization known as Towarzystwo Patriotyczne (translating to “the Patriotic Society”) notified authorities that Nergal had “offended the religious feelings of four people,” including a politician from Poland’s ruling conservative coalition.
“In the course of proceedings, the aggrieved parties were questioned and they clearly stated that their religious feelings were offended,” stated Aleksandra Skrzyniarz, the spokeswoman for Warsaw district prosecutor’s office.
The prosecutors’ evidence was backed by the witness testimony of an “expert in religious studies” who deemed that “treading with a shoe on the image of the Mother of God is an offence against religious feelings,” according to Skrzyniarz. The investigation also cited Article 196 of Poland’s penal code: “Whoever offends the religious feelings of other persons by publicly insulting an object of religious worship, or a place designated for public religious ceremonies, is liable to pay a fine, have his or her liberty limited, or be deprived of his or her liberty for a period of up to two years.”
The archaic law has been disputed by Amnesty International, who previously requested the Polish government repeal or amend the statute — one that Nergal and Behemoth have grown all too familiar with. In 2018, he was formally charged by the government for Behemoth’s “Republic of the Unfaithful” tour art and merch, which purportedly “insulted” the national coat of arms. Most famously, Nergal faced charges (of which he was later acquitted) for tearing up a Bible on stage during a show in Gdynia in 2007.
Nergal has recently compared the Polish government to the “scary, Medieval past.” In this instance, he was referring to the country’s near-total abortion ban that was enforced late last month, criticizing Poland in a since deleted Instagram post.
Nergal’s Virgin Mary post is still up on Facebook and can be seen below, followed by our own video interview in which the musician told us that listening to 10 seconds of Behemoth’s music “would probably kill 100 emo kids.”