Norwegian Lutheran pastor Ludvig Nessa, 41, was taken to court earlier this year for opposing abortion (The Interim, February 1991).
The trial initiated on request of the state-funded Norwegian Lutheran Church lasted two weeks.
Contacted by The Interim, Margit Apelthun of Dagen, Norway reported that defense witnesses pointed to Nessa’s opposition to abortion as a prophetic action proper to a clergyman. Senior professors of theology and philosophy acknowledged that Nessa’s actions had awakened them to the evil of abortion.
A Catholic priest testified that Nessa’s words and symbolic actions were not at all excessive in view of the brutal reality of abortion.
Undermining good order
Witnesses for prosecution, however, argued that Mr. Nessa was undermining the order and organization of the state church. Three Lutheran bishops agreed that abortion may be bad but that “Ludwig Nessa’s preaching and rescue actions were destroying the proper coexistence between church and state.” He is altogether too provocative, the bishops stated, continuing to bring the subject before the congregation, had indicated that they didn’t want to hear about it and had asked him never to bring it up again.
His use of symbols – an aborted fetus and a tiny baby doll on a cross – belonged, they said to “an Old Testament theocracy, not a modern democracy.”
Nessa’s own bishop stated that it wasn’t the church’s business to intervene in government legislation even if this legislation was contrary to the will of God. He acknowledged, however, that Nessa was a good and zealous minister.
Pennsylvania’s pro-life monthly, Voices for the Unborn, (May 1991) printed the following report from Ludvig Nessa:
“The Crown Court in Norway has defrocked me and sentenced me to leave my congregation and even to pay all the costs of the trial. The expenses are approx. 300,000 kroners ($50,000 U.S.). Without work it is impossible. No bank will give a loan to a man without work.
“People in Norway have had their eyes opened because of this verdict. I have even got-ten support from people who are pro-abortion. Some say that even Nessa should get his freedom of speech, and nobody should lose their living because of their opinion.”
“This trial was forced on me by the State, Rev. Bare Knudsen lost his case in 1983 but he did not have to pay for the trial. And the State/Church did not defrock him. The Norwegian authorities seem not to want any more opposition against the abortion law. They will crush with economic disaster everybody who tries to stop baby killing.”
“What they do not know is: when they have taken away everything from an individual, that person is really free – free to fight for life and the truth.”
“P.S. Both my bishop (who supported the State lawsuit) and the judges are freemasons.”