Pastor faces jail for calling Islam ‘satanic’

Pastor faces jail for calling Islam ‘satanic’

Northern Ireland preacher James McConnell, 78, who last year branded Islam as ‘Satanic’, could be jailed for up to six months for contravening NI’s 2003 Communications Act.

According  to this report, McConnell, of the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle, is accused of:

Sending, or causing to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive.

A defiant McConnell this week said he’d go to prison rather than withdraw the remarks.

I am 78 years of age and in ill health but jail knows no fear for me. They can lock me up with sex offenders, hoodlums and paramilitaries and I will do my time.

I have no regrets about what I said. I do not hate Muslims but I denounce Islam as a doctrine and I make no apologies for that. I will be pleading ‘not guilty’ when I stand in the dock in August.

McConnell’s solicitor Joe Rice vowed to fight the case “tooth and nail”. He called on the Public Prosecution Service to withdraw the charges and said pursuing the case was:

An absolute waste of scarce public funds.

He revealed plans to turn the case into a landmark trial and call a range of political, religious and academic witnesses from across the UK to give evidence:

In defence of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

McConnell claimed that after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, the Police Service Northern Ireland had warned him that his life was in danger. He said the decision to prosecute him, and not extremist Muslim preachers in Britain, showed that Christians were being “persecuted” by the authorities.

The charges he faces centre on a sermon he gave in his church last year which was streamed on the Internet. In it he declared:

Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell.

McConnell insists that the charges against him were symbolic of the “persecution” Christians are currently facing.

It is a case of back to the future. In the first century, the apostles were jailed for preaching the gospel. Early Christians were boiled in oil, burnt at the stake and devoured by wild beasts. If they faced that and kept their faith, I can easily do six months in jail.

Pastor McConnell voluntarily went to a police station for interview about his remarks in June last year. He said he first heard he was being prosecuted on Wednesday when two female PSNI officers arrived at his home.

Rice said:

It has taken the PPS and the PSNI over a year to issue proceedings. What have they been doing for the past 12 months? It is extremely disappointing that at a time when the PPS currently has so much on its plate and when resources are so scarce – public money is being used to pursue a man who has given 60 years of his life to the service of God. I urge the PPS to withdraw these charges. I don’t see how targeting an elderly gentleman is in the public interest.

He added:

I don’t agree with everything Pastor McConnell says but his prosecution represents a threat to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  If we’re moving into a genuinely pluralist society, these freedoms must be extended to Christians as much as they are to others.

Rice said that the Crown planned to call eight witnesses in Pastor McConnell’s prosecution.

Rest assured we will call many, many more. This will be a landmark case with leading political, religious and academic figures giving evidence. I suspect the trial will have to be moved to the High Court because Laganside courts won’t be big enough to accommodate it.

While McConnell will appear in court in August, Rice doesn’t expect the full case to be heard until December.

Rice added:

The logic of the decision to prosecute Pastor McConnell means that many clerics – including Catholic priests and other evangelical pastors – could now find themselves under investigation for preaching with passion. My client’s remarks weren’t addressed at individual Muslims but at Islam in generic terms.

Pastor McConnell said:

I apologised last year if I had unintentionally hurt anyone’s feelings. I would defend the right of any Muslim cleric to preach against me or Christianity. I most certainly don’t want any Muslim clerics prosecuted but I find it very unfair that I’m the only preacher facing prosecution.

He stressed that he didn’t hate Muslims.

My church funds medical care for 1,200 Muslim children in Kenya and Ethiopia. I’ve no hatred in my heart for Muslims but I won’t be stopped from preaching against Islam.

Hat tip: Trevor Blake

26 responses to “Pastor faces jail for calling Islam ‘satanic’”

  1. Ex Patriot says:

    I am sorry but this one time I will agree with what the man said, Islam and all religions are evil and serve no purpose. I added a bit to what he said. He should not go to jail for speaking the truth

  2. andym says:

    Whether he is right or wrong,he should not be prosecuted merely for saying something offensive. This will lend ammunition to all those Christians complaining of persecution.

  3. Broga says:

    Those who should be prosecuted are those who intend to prosecute McConnell. What did he say that was untrue or inaccurate? Saying something which is offensive to some people doesn’t mean it is untrue.

    Most of what appears on this site is offensive to believing Christians. That doesn’t make it untrue. I don’t agree with McConnell’s religious opinions but I respect his courage.

  4. Angela_K says:

    McConnell, has in some degree, been hoisted by his own petard in respect of his support of the blasphemy law. There has to be freedom to attack ideas – and religion [especially islam] is a very bad idea- but not people. However, muslims have a propensity to physically attack those whose ideas they dislike.

  5. Newspaniard says:

    Does anyone know of a defence fund for this guy, I’d like to contribute a small amount if it would help. In a province run by terrorists for terrorists, you’d thought that the PSNI would have better things to do. How about taking out a few IRA drug barons for example. Especially those who shook hands with our royal family recently.

  6. .Korgu says:

    Let’s put all this to the test….let the man say what he wants….when he wants …to whom so ever he wants … It’s called freedom of speech, the bedrock of a secular democracy. Now let’s see if the Muslims can be grown up enough to refrain from their normal first response, hysterical violence and shrieks of persecution and offense. In my analysis, the threat to freedom of speech is entirely driven by the pious, those who believe in stupid divisive dogmas. McConnell must not be taken to court for expressing his view, no matter how misguided and bigoted it is, just because some equally misguided fools seek to draw attention to themselves. And don’t forget which faction is the one most likely to resort to the vilest forms of calculated politically motivated violence.

  7. .Korgu says:

    Hint. It’s the faction currently at the root of all the violence in the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and every other country where islam is dominant,and in countries all over the world where muslims, until they can get a strong enough foothold, live as tolerated minorities.

  8. barriejohn says:

    I recognize Pastor McConnell from the “Conversations in the Holy Land” programmes on TBN, in which he appears alongside his fundamentalist pal, Bob Glass. I know their type only too well. Like Angela, I’ll save my sympathy, as these people ensured that Northern Ireland alone in the United Kingdom retains the offence of “blasphemy and blasphemous libel”. Hoist by their own petard, indeed! However, I do have one other thing to say: What is the opinion of Islam about Christianity and other religions? Does anyone have any information about this, as I have a niggling suspicion that they don’t approve of them, but I may not be correct (irony again!).

    This from the NSS:–the-state-again-tramples-over-free-expression

  9. Broga says:

    .Korgo: Yup. You got it. There is a kind of Muslim who wins all the arguments by slaughtering those with whom they disagree. They then think, lost in their fantasies, that they have been proved right. They would be shown to be fools in any debate about their beliefs.

  10. AgentCormac says:

    I wonder why his church funds medical care for 1,200 Muslim children in Kenya and Ethiopia? Could it be they are trying to proselytise, perchance?

  11. barriejohn says:

    AgentCormac: Shame on you! How could you even suggest such a thing?

    Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in Africa. Because of poverty and hardship many people see life as hopeless and without any future. We explain to them the answer is found in God’s plan for their salvation, through the saving grace of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

  12. Broga says:

    @AgentCormac: The way I see it, unless there is evidence to the contrary, is that if you get the help then you get the Christian message. There are no free lunches.

    With Mama Tess you got the message and you didn’t get much help. Pregnant women left in pain because the old witch didn’t agree with supplying pain relieving drugs. The much lamented late, great Hitch did a great demolition job on the future saint.

  13. CharlyO says:

    It seems to me to be just a tempest in a teapot, no more no less.

  14. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    I don’t agree with him that islam is satanic because I don’t believe in satan. That said, he has the right to say what he likes, freedom of speech etc. Pity he supported the retention of blasphemy laws in N.I. Otherwise they couldn’t have brought this prosecution, what a waste of time/money.

  15. Brian Jordan says:

    Are they after him for blasphemy though? It sounds more like the catch-all censorship that we have in the rest of the UK. I’d have thought that slagging-off competing religions was nearer orthodoxy than blasphemy.

  16. andym says:

    The writer Arthur Koestler coined a term to describe Bobby Fischer, the chess player, “mimophant”- a mimosa where his own feelings were concerned, an elephant with everyone else’s.

    Nearly all religious fanatics are mimophants. They want the freedom to offend and say what they like, and also the right not to be offended. A logical conclusion I suppose, of thinking your sect has the monopoly on truth.

  17. barriejohn says:

    Brian Jordan: No, he’s obviously not being prosecuted for blasphemy himself, but, as @andym says, he and his ilk want the right to say what they like about other faiths whilst shielding their own from criticism because it is “the truth”. Maybe not strictly “hoist by his own petard”, but a degree of schadenfreude for the rest of us!

  18. JohnMWhite says:

    Agreed, barriejohn. He has made his bed by inculcating the idea that it certain subjects are off-limits because the feelings of the faithful matter more than anything else. This is the result he would gladly see for someone who told him Jesus was a raving lunatic. Also from the description of the charges it sounds like he’s fallen foul of obscenity laws that Christian busybodies are responsible for in the first place.

    Still, the police shouldn’t bother with this sort of nonsense. There are real crimes against real people to worry about. I wish there were a mechanism for courts to throw the book at complainers and cops who waste everybody’s time.

    Oh, and I hope somebody in Norther Ireland can see this… Islam is satanic.

    It’s not, because Satan doesn’t exist, but fuck such a stupid, vindictive law that would lock people up for saying words. So now a communication has been made that said something somebody doesn’t like. Oh noes!

  19. Vanity Unfair says:

    If this does get to court (and , obviously, NI is such a peaceful and law-abiding community that neither the PSNI nor the Public Prosecution Service of Northern Ireland has much else on their plates) then Mr McConnell should decide whether Islam is satanic or Satanic. Part of me hopes that the latter is chosen as this could lead to long, expensive arguments over the actual existence and nature of Satan. All sorts of expert witnesses could be called: even a summons for the Adversary him/her/itself. This should be welcomed in an adversarial system.
    This is not mere speculation; there could be legal consequences. In the circumstance of a member of the Church of Satan wanting to take an oath on a Satanic Bible it would be inconvenient, to say the least, if a UK court had ruled on the maleficence or non-existence of the character.And then there would be the counter-argument….
    This could be very enjoyable.

  20. John the Drunkard says:

    ‘Gross offence,’ and blasphemy are not quite equivalent in the eyes of those who support laws against them.


    If religious leaders actually practice free speech, they will continuously be committing BOTH. The New Testament and the Koran are mutually blasphemous. Mohammed declared Jewish and Xian scriptures to be false and corrupt when he learned that they did NOT contain any prophecies about HIM. After he had loudly proclaimed that they did.

    The Koran states that Jesus was not crucified, nor was he resurrected. This is blasphemy according to the doctrine of every Christian denomination. Not to mention the bit about Moses being Jesus’ uncle…or the Trinity being God the Father, God the Son, and God the Mother…..

  21. Cali Ron says:

    Technically, the proper christian folklore is God the Father , God the Son and God the Holy Ghost (the catholics added all that Mary the mother stuff later, women were hardly worth mentioning in the Bible, a reflection of Jewish culture at the time). Blasphemy laws are one of religions more stupid legacies. They are indefensible since they are based on superstition, yet some still exists.

  22. dennis says:

    martyrdom is all this pastor is looking to attain. he is worried about getting into his heaven. he believes this is the redemption he needs. prostrate him self in the jail cell and yell “save me my humble lord”

    @Vanity Unfair, Yes bring the satan or Satan forward!

  23. gedediah says:

    This is a case of wingnut on wingnut crime. Not something the authorities should concern themselves with.

  24. Newspaniard says:

    Ha ha ha. I see Nutty Iftikhar is at it again with his huge tracts of taqiyya copied and pasted. Next time why don’t you copy the whole of your hate book…? Oh no, that would show all the readers the truth about your terrible death cult. I read somewhere that analysis of the koran has shown that over 60% concerns who to kill and how to do it. Chew on those statistics and then tell me that islam is truly a religion of peace. Get back to assisting vulnerable youth with trying on their suicide vests.

  25. […] religious and secular, who are calling on the Northern Ireland authorities to drop a charge against pastor James McConnell, […]