An evangelical pastor in Northern Ireland is set to be prosecuted after giving a sermon in which he called Islam “satanic” and claimed that it’s doctrine was “spawned in Hell.”
Pastor James McConnell, 78, of Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in Belfast, Northern Ireland, gave the sermon in May of 2014. It went viral when it was posted on the internet, causing controversy all over the world.
“The Muslim religion was created many hundreds of years after Christ. Muhammad, the Islam Prophet, was born around the year A.D. 570, but Muslims believe that Islam is the true religion,” he preached, according to The Blaze. “Now, people say there are good Muslims in Britain. That may be so, but I don’t trust them.”
“Islam’s ideas about God, about humanity, about salvation are vastly different from the teaching of the holy scriptures,” he continued. “Islam is heathen. Islam is satanic. Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell.”
At first, McConnell stood by his comments, but he eventually gave in and apologized after receiving some heavy backlash. Despite his apology, police still launched an investigation into the sermon for a hate crime.
McConnell denied the issuance of an “informed warning,” which is not a conviction of a crime. However, it does stay on your criminal record for a year. Had he accepted this, it would have been impossible to prosecute him.
A representative for the Public Prosecution Service in North Ireland told reporters that McConnell had violated the Communications Act 2003. He added that the pastor’s offense 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.”
McConnell, who retired after the controversy, has refused to back down, telling the press that he is “not going to be gagged.”
“The police tried to shut me up and tell me what to preach. It’s ridiculous. I believe in freedom of speech. I’m going to keep on preaching the gospel,” he said, according to the Guardian. “I have nothing against Muslims, I have never hated Muslims, I have never hated anyone. But I am against what Muslims believe.”
“They have the right to say what they believe in and I have a right to say what I believe,” McConnell added.
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