Unbelieving Danish Minister Suspended Again

The Lutheran minister who proclaimed last year there was no God or afterlife was suspended for a second time Thursday for ignoring church orders not to repeat those beliefs from the pulpit.

Helsingoer Bishop Lise-Lotte Rebel (search) suspended the Rev. Thorkild Grosboell (search), pastor of Taarbaek, and handed his case to the government "requesting that it take the necessary steps."

In Denmark, Lutheran ministers are employed by the state and only the government can fire them and only with a recommendation from their presiding bishop. Rebel oversees the diocese that includes Taarbaek, a small town north of Copenhagen.

Grosboell has been under Rebel's strict supervision since he first was suspended after a May 2003 interview in which he said "there is no heavenly God, there is no eternal life, there is no resurrection."

About 85 percent of Danes belong to the state Evangelical Lutheran Church (search), though just 5 percent attend church services regularly.

Grosboell eventually retracted his statement and apologized for what Rebel had termed "provocative" remarks. His suspension was lifted.

Yet, he repeated those beliefs in past weeks.

"I expected he would change his mind," the bishop said in a statement Thursday.

Grosboell "again has spoken in a strongly provocative, hurting and confusing way," Rebel said.

She cited an undated but recent sermon in which Grosboell allegedly said, "God had abdicated in favor of his son, hence in our favor. Therefore there is no longer a heavenly guarantee or an interfering might, there is only the godly kingdom [on earth] that is achieved by us and between us. So if it fails, there is nothing."

The sermon was "clearly incompatible with the state church's faith," the bishop said.

Rebel concluded that Grosboell "had disregarded the state church's basis for belief, undermined his duty's respect and confidence, disregarded the official order [and] caused a deep confusion about the state church."

Grosboell responded by saying he was puzzled.

"Basically, I can only say that I still don't understand what she means and talks about," he told The Associated Press, adding there was "nothing concrete" in her order. He did not deny giving the sermon.