A born-again Christian preacher in Belfast is to be prosecuted for describing Islam as “satanic” and that its doctrine was “spawned in hell.”
78-year-old Pastor James McConnell was accused of Islamophobia after he denounced the Muslim religion as a “heathen”, or barbarian and godless, faith last May during a sermon at his Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle.
McConnell initially defended his remarks; however, after a huge public outcry, he publicly apologized for any offense or distress he had caused to the Muslim community outside the Belfast Islamic Centre.
Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service said on Thursday that McConnell was offered an “informed warning,” which is not a conviction, though it stays on a person’s criminal record for one year.
Accepting the informed warning would have avoided a prosecution, but he refused to accept it.
A representative for the Public Prosecution Service in North Ireland told the BBC that McConnell had violated the Communications Act 2003 and that his 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.”
The Police Service of Northern Ireland was called in to investigate the Pastor for a potential hate crime.
However, McConnell says that he will not be silenced.
“I’m not taking it lying down. I am 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.
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.”
Recently Ashers Baking Company in Northern Ireland was also convicted of discrimination after refusing to make a cake with a message supporting gay marriage.