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French priest faces death threats after ‘sexy’ pole dance show

French priest faces death threats after ‘sexy’ pole dance show
French priest faces death threats after ‘sexy’ pole dance show Copyright Facebook - Stock photo
Copyright Facebook - Stock photo
By David Mouriquand
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A French priest has received death threats after a sold-out pole dance performance was held in his church.

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Forgive them Father, for they have taken to the pole…

A French priest has received death threats after a sold-out pole dance performance was held in his church.

Daniel Boessenbacher, the priest at the Protestant Saint-Guillaume church in Strasbourg, eastern France, told AFP he had alerted police to the threats after receiving two anonymous letters.

“There is no doubt, this is about a show involving Stabat Mater and pole dancing,” he said.

A baroque music and performing arts association, Passions Croisées (Interwoven Passions), rented the church last week for two performances of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s lyrical sequence Stabat Mater, which they combined with dance and pole dance acts.

The Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace newspaper said the pole dancing by the gymnast and former French pole dance champion Vincent Grobelny had been “skilful, athletic, graceful, impertinent and, some would say, sexy”, and had left the audience “gasping”.

The priest described the evening’s programme as “flirtatious but soft”, acknowledging that “some didn’t like it”.

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Images from the evening with performing arts association Passions CroiséesFacebook
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Passions Croisées performing in the Protestant Saint-Guillaume churchFacebook

Hardly Showgirls in a church, and there was a distinct lack of raunchiness, but the show was apparently enough to get some seeing red.

One of the threatening letters demanded that the parishioners be "beheaded", adding that "this is not a church, it is a cabaret."

The other letter said of the priest that "his head must be cut off because he has presented the keys of our holy church to a dancing serpent".

Boessenbacher said programs for the show with phrases like "You're going to die" or "You're going to hell" scribbled on them were slipped under the church door.

"We're used to getting reactions, but not death threats," said the 54-year-old.

Boessenbacher wrote in a Facebook post: "I didn't plan on spending time at the police station on the first day of Holy Week. But oh well... My open-mindedness stops when pseudo-Christians drop anonymous mails at the parish. (…) I write pseudo-Christians because I don't know where, in the Gospels, Jesus asks to send death threats. Of course, a complaint was filed.”

Indeed, Boessenbacher is not deterred by the threats: "I believe the Church needs to open up to the world."

Two more performances are planned for late May and early June at the Saint-Guillaume church, combining pole dancing and opera. 

We await to hear whether Paul Verhoeven will scoop up the rights and delight us with yet another sultry cinematic extravaganza. Watch this space.

Additional sources • AFP

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