An evangelical pastor in Northern Ireland is under fire and will be prosecuted after calling Islam “satanic” and claiming that its doctrine was “spawned in hell” during a controversial 2014 sermon that streamed over the Internet.
Pastor James McConnell, 78, of Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in Belfast, Northern Ireland, made his comments — which included calling Islam “heathen” — in a sermon delivered last May, the BBC reported.
“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. “Now, people say there are good Muslims in Britain. That may be so, but I don’t trust them.”
McConnell continued, “Islam’s ideas about God, about humanity, about salvation are vastly different from the teaching of the holy scriptures. Islam is heathen. Islam is satanic. Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell.”
He initially defended his comments, but relented and apologized for offending anyone after a public outcry; the police were subsequently called to investigate him for a potential hate crime.
Watch McConnell’s comments about Islam below:
McConnell, who is accused of violating the law, reportedly denied the issuance of an “informed warning,” which is not a conviction, though it stays on a person’s criminal record for the period of one year.
Accepting the informed warning, though, would have prevented the pastor from being prosecuted in court.
A representative for the Public Prosecution Service in North Ireland told the BBC that McConnell had violated the Communications Act 2003 and that his 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.”
But McConnell — who retired from Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle following the controversy — isn’t backing down, proclaiming in an interview 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.”
McConnell continued, “They have the right to say what they believe in and I have a right to say what I believe.”
As TheBlaze previously reported, Ashers Baking Company in Northern Ireland was also recently convicted of discrimination after refusing to make a cake with a message supporting gay marriage.