On Sunday, 28 October, the Norwegian artist, Ole Paus, gave a concert at the Cathedral of Bergen. The theme was «peace». During the concert, Paus allegedly advocated extremely negative and insulting statements about politicians with FrP (The Norwegian Progressive Party).
The event caught the attention of the press, due to the contribution by Nils Gunnar Sjøberg in the Norwegian newspaper Bergens Tidende in which he wrote that he had anticipated the event to be a nice folk music event; however, it became mostly «embarrassing and painful» when Ole Paus spent time on fronting negative characterisation of dissentients.
In a conversation with Bishop Halvor Nordhaug in front of the listeners before the concert Ole Paus labelled several politicians with FrP (The Norwegian Progressive Party) as criminals. He used characteristics like whoremonger, rapist, and cheater.
– If this is supposed to be the cream of FrP, what are the others like in the party? Ole Paus said in the packed cathedral.
The statements of Ole Paus evoke response from the vice-chairman of FrP, Sylvi Listhaug. She considers this an extreme opinion.
– I find it sad that the church has become an arena for spreading hatred and contribute to polarisation. To label members of Frp as cheaters and rapists is an extreme opinion that is totally uncalled for, least of all at church, Listhaug writes about the event on Facebook.
She further expects an apology from Ole Paus and bishop Nordhaug, at the same time criticising the church for allowing such insulting statements to be uttered in the church.
– I expect an unrestrained apology from Ole Paus and Bishop Halvor Nordhaug to members of Frp. This is completely unacceptable! Ole Paus is a coward, fronting such a comment as this one. He is a well-known, Norwegian artist and must take on responsibility for his statements, the vice-chairman of FrP concludes.
In bishop Nordhaug’s opinion, it is not his task to stop insults directed at politicians with FrP in the church.
– It always implies a risk to invite to an open dialogue in the church. The church has to a large degree served as a room of monologues; however, we also are in need of the open dialogue. To allow other voices is to a certain degree to let control slip. We must dare to do so, the bishop writes in a response to Nils Gunnar Sjøberg’s contribution in Bergens Tidende.
Ole Paus has formerly labelled Sylvi Listhaug as «primitive» in a remark to NRK regarding the reference to him in Listhaug’s book «Der andre tier» («Where others remain silent»).
Translated to English by Lars Hoem