New attack on churches in Germany and Norway
Both in Germany and Sweden, churches were attacked in the past few days.
Pastor Klemens Müller of the Evangelical church in Nordhausen, Thuringia, looked out of his window and saw a man around the church late last week. He was demolishing the furniture and even breaking the cross with the medieval figure of Christ. That crucifix was rescued from the rubble of a bombing in the Second World War.
Many German news sources reported this on Monday, as did Die Welt.
The pastor went out to the person and asked him what he was doing. It appeared that he did this on religious grounds since he was a Muslim and saw Christianity as shameful unbelief.
The police came to the place and stopped the man's destruction in the old church.
It turned out that the man was a 25-year-old Afghan asylum seeker who came in 2015 to Germany.
Just before Reformation Day
This happened just before Reformation Day last Sunday. According to German media, the congregation decided to clean the building and have the service as before.
The Frauenbergkirche is from the 12th century and is one of the oldest churches in the region. Like many German churches, the building is usually open during the summertime until end-October.
Mr Müller said in the German press the Afghan man was acting alone. "I didn't have the impression that he had thought his acting through logically."
In the Norwegian Fjære parish in the municipality of Grimstad, a church was damaged by vandalism. The person connected is arrested and charged with vandalism.
Extensive damage was done to the church in the south of Norway, near the city of Kristiansand. Several antiquities were damaged, like the church's crypt with well-preserved, mummified corpses from the 17th century and other materials from the 13th century. The daily Vart Land reported about this on Monday.
The baptismal font has been knocked over and is divided into three parts, and carpets are torn up. On the pulpit, some figures have come loose. The perpetrator has tried to set two hymn books on fire, but the flames have not spread further.
Between Thursday night and Friday morning, the medieval church Fjære church in Grimstad was subjected to burglary. Extensive damage was done inside the church. For that reason, is the National Heritage Board involved in the case also.
The damage can be fixed, but it is uncertain what it will cost and how long it will take church guardian Alexander Paul states. The church is locked until further notice.
A doctor has assessed the perpetrator's mental health. The police have questioned the man. The man is an acquaintance of the police. They say that he was arrested in a drunken state.
One of the oldest churches
Fjære Church is one of Norway's oldest stone churches and was built around 1150. During that time, most churches were made from wood and not from stone. It is, therefore, that this building is "one of our treasures", says church history professor Hallgeir Elstad at the University of Oslo in Vart Land.
He mentions unique objects such as the altarpiece from the Renaissance, the pulpit from the early 17th century and the Gothic baptismal font in soapstone from the 13th century. "One of the finest specimens of its kind in the country," Elstad describes the baptismal font.
Emotions in the area
According to Vart Land, the attack on the church has aroused emotions in the Grimstad area. The church is still the local gathering place, also for people who do not come to the service on Sundays, says parish council leader Vidar Øvland. "Suddenly, the church where they were baptised, confirmed and followed grandmother to the grave feels much closer."
According to Elstad, church buildings have always been met with respect. "There has been a perception that one stands on sacred ground, and a piety followed that." "In the nineties, there were many church fires in Norway. "At that time, it was still associated with the flourishing of the Satanist milieu. The older and more valuable the church was, the better – from their perspective."