Manson Gets Fed To The Christians

Although his August 22 show in the Adriatic coastal town of Pula did go ahead, shock rocker Marilyn Manson faced waves of protests from the powerful Catholic church and parents worried that he is promoting Satanism.

Despite the uproar, the show had the backing of the authorities and police spokesman Robert Pavlekovic told the AFP news agency, “The concert will take place. We will mobilise a sufficient number of officers to react in case of any riots.”

A week earlier, the police had considered banning the concert after several Catholic priests had sent a letter to the Pula mayor saying, “You should know that Manson fans turn the site of his concerts into Sodom and Gomorrah,” and offered to pay to have the show banned from the northern town’s Roman amphitheatre.

Manson didn’t miss the chance for some quick press coverage by telling the local daily Novi List, “If they think that an artist can destroy their faith, then their faith is rather fragile.”

“For me it is normal that as an artist I provoke people and I don’t claim that what I am doing is suitable for everybody. I am very disappointed with policies and religions who manipulate people,” he added.

Manson did have one ally in the unlikely shape of Anton Bobas, a Catholic priest who has his own heavy metal band called Glasnici Nade (Messengers of Hope), who told the daily Vjesnik, “How could Manson turn young people into Satanists and drug-addicts in the two hours of his act?.”

He said most of Manson’s critics have never heard his songs or seen him perform.

Twenty-four hours after the Pula show, Manson met a similar wave of protest as his “Against All Gods” tour moved on to play Hungary’s Budapest Arena.

The country’s Christian Public Life Academy issued an open invite for people to come to a protest meeting outside Mátyás Church before the singer took to the stage, and several hundred people braved the rain to register their disgust through prayer.

Standing in front of the statue of the country’s founder, King Saint Stephen, speakers from the academy and other religious groups accused Manson of intending to burn Bibles during the performance and called him “Satan by another name.”

“Manson’s concerts are a revised form of Satanism and more of an occult event than a performance,” Péter Morvay, editor of religious weekly newspaper Hetek and member of the evangelical Faith Church in Hungary, told The Budapest Times. “However, trying to stop a concert doesn’t make sense, as we are a free country, but he will fail in his mission to corrupt here.”

Others displayed a more aggressive attitude. Róbert Szikora, a prominent Christian musician with rock group R-Go, told the tabloid Színes Bulvár, “If I see him in the street I might put aside my Christianity and smack him in the mouth with a stick. … It’s unbelievable that a country of 8-and-a-half million Christians is allowing this concert to go ahead.”

This time it was left to concert promoter László Hegedûs of Clear Channel’s Multimedia Concerts to come to Manson’s defence.

“The complaints are from religious preachers who simply want publicity. Marilyn Manson isn’t against God, but against organised religion,” he told The Budapest Times. “The concerts are just like any other heavy metal show, with kids dressed in black with painted faces. They’re not dangerous.”

One thing the concerts underlined is that Manson’s European spiritual flock is on the wane. Earlier in the tour, he was panned in the Belgian press after a lacklustre performance at Pukkelpop Festival, and the Balkan papers reported that the 12,500-capacity Budapest Arena was no more than half full and the 7,000 capacity Roman theatre at Pula did about the same business.

— John Gammon