Northern Ireland Pastor Faces Hate Crime Charges for Denouncing Islam
By Jerry A. Kane
A Belfast, Northern Ireland, pastor James McConnell, 78, has been charged with a hate crime for denouncing Islam in his May 2014 Sunday sermon, which was also broadcast over the Internet.
McConnell, pastor of the Whitewell Metropolitan Church in North Belfast, said that the doctrine of Islam is “Satanic” and was “spawned in Hell.”
“The God we worship and serve this evening is not Allah. The Muslim god—Allah—is a heathen deity. Allah is a cruel deity. Allah is a demon deity.”
McConnell also called the British government “foolish” for trying to appease Muslims, pointing out that Christians around the world are persecuted for their faith by the “fanatical worshipers” of Allah.
John McCreedy resigned as assistant pastor at Whitewell Metropolitan Church because McConnell would not retract his statements.
“I spent many days trying to sort this, without success, and I could not continue after the pastor’s initial remarks were not withdrawn. The theological arguments presented by the pastor are a contradiction to my own beliefs—religious, political and moral—in relation to New Testament evangelism. Neither are they the views of many others I have spoken to at Whitewell, who have for years reached out to others from every ethnic background and denomination,” McCreedy said.
Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said McConnell’s anti-Muslim comments were “hate mongering” and “must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”
McConnell apologized for any offense he may have caused; but when he refused to recant his anti-Islam comments, he was charged with a hate crime related to the internet broadcast of his May 2014 sermon.
“That offence was one of sending, or causing to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive. The offer of an informed warning was refused by the defendant and accordingly the matter is now proceeding by way of a summary prosecution in the Magistrates Court,” said the spokesman for Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service.
McConnell’s trial inquisition date has not been set.
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body; it calls attention to the development of an unhealthy state of things. If it is heeded in time, danger may be averted; if it is suppressed, a fatal distemper may develop.”―Winston S. Churchill, New Statesman interview (January 7, 1939)
For more on the story, see Pastor to Be Prosecuted for ‘Hate Crime’ of Calling Islam ‘Satanic,’ ‘Heathen’ During Sermon.