€700 Fine For Artist Who 'Defiled Church' By Doing Press-Ups On The Altar

ScreenshotKarle said his stunt was not an attack on the Church, but "a democratic right to freely express our opinion through artistic interventions".

A German artist has been fined €700 after he was accused of defiling a place of worship by doing press-ups on a church altar.

Alexander Karle, 38, posted a video of the stunt – performed on the altar of St John's Basilica – on YouTube and it was later displayed at an art centre.

The performance piece was called 'Pressure to Perform'. According to Catholic News Agency (CNA), Karle said he wanted "to study the links between religion and the need to conform to high standards of the time".

However, the parish brought charges against him.

"The Christian faith expects to be treated with respect," local priest Father Eugen Vogt told newspaper Zeitung für Saarbrücken.

He insisted it was an act of "provocation and offence."

Karle was initially fined €1,500 for disturbance of religious activities and illegal entry in a church domain closed to the public, CNA said.

The prosecutor argued that Karle had "consciously and intentionally used the altar for purposes other than intended and performed physical exercise, having climbed upon it with his shoes on".

But the fine was at a later trial reduced to €700.

Karle said his stunt was not an attack on the Church, but "a democratic right to freely express our opinion through artistic interventions".

"In the beginning, the Catholic Church's emphasis was on non-materialism, that is, for instance 'It is not the issue of the holy altar itself, but of what the altar stands for.' And that has changed," he told Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

"Today, we've got a situation when material things are more worthy than people or feelings. I wanted to bring it to the public attention, by combining the two things in a way which hasn't been seen before and which could trigger a broad discussion."

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