Pastor Appears in Court Over ‘Hate Crime’ of Calling Islam ‘Satanic,’ ‘Heathen’ During Sermon

James McConnellBELFAST, Northern Ireland — A pastor in Northern Ireland who was prosecuted with a hate crime for denouncing the Islamic religion during a Sunday sermon last year appeared in court this week as his criminal trial moved forward.

As previously reported, James McConnell, 78, pastor of the Whitewell Metropolitan Church in North Belfast, discussed Islam during an evening sermon in May 2014. During the message, McConnell denounced the religion and said that the contrast between it and Christianity is stark.

“The God we worship and serve this evening is not Allah,” he proclaimed, according to a video of the sermon. “The Muslim god—Allah—is a heathen deity. Allah is a cruel deity. Allah is a demon deity.”

McConnell then criticized the “foolish” British government for attempting to appease Muslims financially, saying that Islam is “Satanic” and “a doctrine spawned in Hell.” He also noted that Christians around the world are persecuted for their faith by the “fanatical worshipers” of Allah.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, McConnell’s remarks were inspired by the plight of Meriam Ibrahim—a Sudanese woman who was sentenced to hang after she was convicted of apostasy for refusing to deny her faith and convert to Islam.

But following McConnell’s sermon, the Police Service of Northern Ireland investigated the preacher for allegations of a hate crime under the 2003 Communications Act. Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness described the preacher’s comments as “hate mongering” and said the anti-Muslim statements “must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”

John McCreedy, assistant pastor at Whitewell Metropolitan Church, also soon resigned from his position because McConnell would not retract his statements. McConnell apologized for any offense he may have caused, but would not recant his sentiments.

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Because McConnell refused a lesser punishment by the government following police questioning, prosecutors decided to move the matter forward in court. The hate crimes charge appears to be related to the sermon being streamed online.

On Monday, prosecutors outlined their case against McConnell, calling him “unrepentant.”

“He characterizes the followers of an entire religion in a stereotypical way. And that’s grossly offensive and that’s not protected from saying it from a pulpit,” prosecuting barrister David Russell told the court. “It has nothing to do with religion or freedom of expression of his freedom to preach.”

McConnell took the stand on Wednesday, standing by his remarks—but outlining that he did not direct his comments at any one person.

“I was attacking the theology of Islam. I was not attacking any individual Muslim,” McConnell asserted. “I didn’t go into the church to provoke anyone. I went into church to present the truth.”

He also explained why he refused lesser punishment.

“If I took that, it would be an insult to the one that I love, for I was standing up for Him—for His gospel and for His truth,” he said. “If I took that informed warning, that would be me gagged.”

McConnell’s attorneys had requested that the case be dismissed on Tuesday, but the motion was rejected.

District Judge Liam McNally is expected to issue his ruling in the non-jury trial on Jan. 5. McConnell could face jail time or a fine if convicted.

“I am going to reserve my judgment. I want to consider all the points raised in submissions,” McNally said.

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  • gizmo23

    This is what happens when religion is part of the state

    • Nidalap

      No, THIS is what happens when political correctness is allowed to override free speech…

      • gizmo23

        This is in Ireland church and state are joined

        • Nidalap

          And this is political correctness being allowed to override free speech…

      • singlemom_4

        Bingo! The Muslim religion should be prosecuted then because they believe it’s okay to kill those who will not convert to Islam in the name of allah, who is no God. It’s all just very hypocritical. The hypocrisy against Christianity and Christians in general is just real strong. Why do Muslim’s have absolute religious freedoms and absolute freedom of speech and beliefs, but Christians don’t? This is all a set up for the mark of the beast.

        • gizmo23

          Where in the USA do Muslims enjoy more freedom that anyone else? Is fear and hate mongering is getting out of control

          • James Boom

            All over the US, they have the obama socialists cheerleading and advocating islam with tax payers money.

          • gizmo23

            Only in your mind

          • James Boom

            Dream on islamophile.

          • 1stcav

            Michigan , houston,Texas , Dallas Texas California , new york ! Them places have many Muslims that should be destroyed period !

          • gizmo23

            Wow! Genocide?You are no better than ISIS

          • afchief

            They are patient! Look what is happening in Dearborn MI. Islam is not compatible with our constitution. It is NOT just a religion. It’s an ideology.

          • gizmo23

            The Muslims I know seem to take their faith far more seriously than most people of other faiths do

          • afchief

            It seem you know little about Islam. It means “submission”. If you do not convert they will kill you. If you do not give your life to Jesus Christ we will pray for you and God will be your judge when you leave this earth.

            Hebrews 9:27 (NASB) And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,

          • gizmo23

            You know very littld about Islam

          • afchief

            It’s ignorance like this that gets people killed. I see it with liberals all the time!!!! It truly is a mental disorder!!!!

          • John Wesley

            Mohamed was a pedophile, a rapist, a wife-beater, and a murderer. That Pastor was telling the truth about Islam.

            I have read the Quran and the Hadith. Mohammed married a six year old and had sex with her when she was 9. He murdered men and forced their wives to mary him. He proudly beat his wives.

            Read the Quran and the Hadith!

          • Ambulance Chaser

            I have met many Muslims. They have yet to kill me.

          • afchief

            You really are too ignorant to be educated!!! You are the typical liberal with his head in the sand who thinks Islam is peaceful and there are only a handful of radicals. There is no such thing as ‘radical Islam’. Islam is Islam today as it was 1400 years ago. you have ‘Pure Islam’ and nothing more. There are practicing Muslims and non practicing people who identify with Islam. Some people call them moderates. A moderate in Islam is simply an Apostate of Islam. The penalty for apostasy under Sharia law is Death. No one has hijacked Islam. Islam was dangerous and full of hatred 1400 years ago and in 2015 it remains the same. The goal of Islam is a worldwide Caliphate and the rise of the 12th Imam. In May 1991 the Muslim Brotherhood issued to its ideological allies an explanatory memorandum on “the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.” Explaining that the Brotherhood’s mission was to establish “an effective and stable Islamic Movement” on the continent, this document outlined a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” for achieving that objective. It stated that Muslims “must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands so that God’s religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions.” The Muslim Brotherhood and CAIR both have ready access to the White House. Imagine that.

            Read the Qur’an. You might begin with Sura 3:151.

            Where were Muslims on September 11th, 2001? If they weren’t flying planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or a field in Pennsylvania killing nearly 3,000 people on our own soil, they were rejoicing in the Middle East. No one can dispute the pictures shown from all parts of the Muslim world celebrating on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and other cable news networks that day.

            Throw taqiyya into the mix and it becomes extremely difficult to know or trust who is the ever-elusive moderate Muslim.

            A moderate muslim is just a radical muslim in hibernation

          • acontraryview

            Christianity is not compatible with our Constitution. There is no religious belief that is compatible with freedom of religion as each religious belief teaches that people should follow their belief and no other.

          • afchief

            I’m not wasting my time with stupidity!!!! It is quite apparent you are no smarter than a box of rocks. Have no idea of how our country was formed. What our laws are based off.

            The Word of God is sooooooooooooo true about people like you…..”who suppress the truth in unrighteousness”…………….YOU are proof!!!!

          • acontraryview

            As usual, you have nothing to counter the truth I presented.

          • John Wesley

            The men who wrote the Constitution and most of those who ratified it were Christians you ignorant dolt!

            Furthermore you are highly ignorant of Christianity as well!

        • Josey

          John 15:18-27 vs18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
          23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

          We know these things will come about because God’s word tells us so if you have ears to hear then you know and He who keeps us is faithful to the end, God’s will be done! Even so Lord Jesus Come quickly, amen.

        • acontraryview

          “The Muslim religion should be prosecuted”

          Religions can’t be prosecuted. People can be prosecuted.

          “because they believe it’s okay to kill those, who will not convert to Islam in the name of allah”

          All Muslims believe that? Really? Then how do you explain Turkey, Indonesia, India, and Pakistan, all Muslim majority countries where such actions are illegal?

          “The hypocrisy against Christianity and Christians in general, is just real strong.”

          For example?

          “Why do Muslim’s have absolute religious freedoms and absolute freedom of speech and beliefs, but Christians don’t?”

          Muslims in the US have the same rights – no more – no less – than every other citizen.

      • acontraryview

        Actually, no, gizmo is correct. Church and State in Ireland are directly linked. This is a byproduct of that relationship.

        • Nidalap

          Nonsense. If this were a product of the Church, the language of the Church would have appeared here. He would have been charged with heresy or teaching incorrect doctrine. Instead we see the old political correctness standby, ‘hate speech’ used.

          Anyway, if THIS is a product of Church/State unification, what are you guys so scared of? 🙂

          • acontraryview

            Who is “you guys”?

            I do not find anything about this situation to be “scary”.

          • Nidalap

            In this instance, ‘you guys’ refers to the folk always expressing a paranoid fear that Christians are trying to form some sort of theocracy here in America. Since this persons expression of his Christian point of view was shut down by the government, and since you claim that was a byproduct of Ireland’s Church and State link-itude, it would seem that things will go your way regardless, yes? 🙂

    • John N

      Actually this happened in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, part of the UK and not of the country Ireland. Northern Ireland does not have an estabished church like England has.

      But don’ t let facts destroy a good story.

      • gizmo23

        The UK has a state religion also The Anglican Church

        • John N

          Which is the state religion in England only, not in all of the UK.

  • Jeff Spradling

    Soooo, one: they don’t have freedom of speech in Ireland? Two: who monitors sermons and who turned him in? And three: are the sermons coming from mosques also monitored and have and imams been brought to trial?

    • bowie1

      I recall it was on a broadcast that could be seen or heard by the general public.

    • gizmo23

      Church and state are joined in Ireland. So the state has great power over what is said

    • Barry E. Templeton

      The USA does NOT anymore also.

    • acontraryview

      “one: they don’t have freedom of speech in Ireland?”

      Yes, they do. Within certain boundaries, just as there are boundaries in the US.

      “Two: who monitors sermons and who turned him in?”

      it was streamed on the internet so it was made public versus being within the confines of the church.

      “And three: are the sermons coming from mosques also monitored and have and imams been brought to trial?”

      While I am not aware of any that have, I’m also not aware that there has been any basis for doing so.

      • John Wesley

        I have read the Quran and the Hadith. Muhammad was a pedophile, a rapist, and a proud wife beater! He was also a murderer! Islam encourages these things.

    • George A

      I’m guessing that if he’d attacked the COE, there’d be no prosecution.

  • Rev T J Carter

    I stand with the Pastor on this matter because he spoke the TRUTH which has even been proven by Archaeological writings which state Allah is one of the names given to Satan 2,000 years BEFORE Islam was born ! He should not be punished for saying the truth about Islam ! I would be glad to be an assistant Pastor at that church any day !

  • Joshua Krug

    I wish the prosecutions argument would be seen in the light of leaven. Use a little, it works in the whole batch.

  • FoJC_Forever

    The more Muslims are lauded in this country, the closer we get to the seeing and experiencing the same treatment in the USA. Even so, we should openly reject this pagan religion. We were born into perilous times.

    Follow Jesus, find Salvation.

  • James Boom

    The Pastor will probably get better health care in gaol.

    The Public Prosecutor thinks s/he can criminalise the truth.

    • acontraryview

      What truth are you referring to?

  • Josey

    The truth always offends but blessed is the one who is not offended by it and can accept it, he has no reason to apologize for telling the truth. He is a wonderful example and light God is using to spread truth, God will take care of him. God’s angels are encamped around him. What a example to all Christians not to take any deals offered even when it means an easier and more comfortable way or lighter sentence because he did no wrong but he obeyed God by speaking the truth. It will be the same when they begin to offer people to take the mark of the beast in order to buy or sell, to exchange their soul for temporary means to provide for themselves and or families but remember what Christ said when he asked, “what would a man give in exchange for his soul?” To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Not one hair of God’s child will be damaged w/out His permission so don’t be afraid of speaking the truth as the Holy Spirit gives it to you in that hour. This is coming to America, it has begun but don’t be afraid, stand strong in the power of His might, He is greater than all and remember His promises to us who believe.

    • John N

      So you actually think that hate speech and hate mongering against a whole group of people should be allowed, because free speech and ‘the thruth (actually your version of the thruth) always offends’?

      Interesting. I see a parallel here with certain fascist regimes which thought exactly the same way.

      • John Wesley

        Mohamed was a pedophile, a rapist, a wife-beater, and a murderer. That Pastor was telling the truth about Islam.

        I have read the Quran and the Hadith. Mohammed married a six year old and had sex with her when she was 9. He murdered men and forced their wives to mary him. He proudly beat his wives.

        Islam supports and encourages these things! Read the Quran and the Hadith!

        It is clear you have not studied Islam in depth!

        • John N

          Indeed I have not. And what you say about Mohammed is probably true.

          But that still does not justify hate speech and hate mongering against a group of people.

          Certainly since they could reason that your own bible advocates murder, infanticide, rape, child abuse, slavery, sex discrimination and genocide.

  • Susan M Khaury

    When are the Muslims going to be hauled into court for the things they say about the Christians and the Jews? When are we going to realize that Islam is not just a religion, it is an international political system that does not respect the sovereignty of any government that does not conform to their religious/legal system, sharia.

    • Martin Smit

      Christianity too is not a religion. It is also an international political system: a kingdom – a people and a king, who is respected over all claims of sovereignty of all governments (and false prophets). Jesus is the king of kings – the sovereign over all sovereigns. Those who will not listen to him will suffer his wrath. (Psalm 2 has some choice comments for those that disagree.) The critical legal thing about Muslims is not the structure of their religion, but the effects of the falseness of their religion: the falsehood that pervades their beliefs, and the falseness that pervades their justice, and the complete lack of regeneration of the inner man that this leaves their actions open to criminal prosecution. The actions motivated by hate, such as slander, assault, kidnapping and murder are criminal already. We don’t need hate speech laws.

  • Joe Torres

    Northern Ireland is still part of the UK and so I’d think freedom of speech is a thing of the past for the once great empire. What a shell of an empire it has become. Too bad.

  • Martin Smit

    This is the kind of matter that demands a jury trial. It cries out for a jury, because the legal minds are so enraptured by the powers of the state and the spirit of the time.

  • John Wesley

    Mohamed was a pedophile, a rapist, a wife-beater, and a murderer. That Pastor was telling the truth about Islam.

    I have read the Quran and the Hadith. Mohammed married a six year old and had sex with her when she was 9. He murdered men and forced their wives to mary him. He proudly beat his wives.