Freedom of Religion

Pastor James McConnell charged for "satanic Islam" broadcast


Pastor James McConnell delivered a sermon at the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in Belfast on 18th May 2014, in which he denounced Islam with all the zeal of the prophet Zechariah (or, more accurately, the damnable invective of a devout Calvinist). He said inter alia that “Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell”. For this, he was investigated by the Police Service of Northern Ireland for a potential hate crime. Here is a video of the full sermon, by which you may judge for yourselves whether the Pastor preached ‘hate’:

A year on, Pastor James McConnell has been charged – not, it appears, for preaching from his pulpit, but for broadcasting his sermon via the internet. He was given the opportunity to accept an ‘informed warning’, which he declined, not least because it would have amounted to admission of guilt and saddled him with a criminal record. And so the case will duly proceed to court. A spokesman for Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service explained:

“I can confirm that following consideration of a complaint in relation to an internet broadcast of a sermon in May 2014, a decision was taken to offer an individual an informed warning for an offence contrary to the Communications Act 2003. That 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. The offer of an informed warning was refused by the defendant and accordingly the matter is now proceeding by way of a summary prosecution in the Magistrates Court.”

Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 is quite clear:

Improper use of public electronic communications network

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he—

(a) sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or
(b) causes any such message or matter to be so sent.

(2) A person is guilty of an offence if, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another, he—

(a) sends by means of a public electronic communications network, a message that he knows to be false,
(b) causes such a message to be sent; or
(c) persistently makes use of a public electronic communications network.

To be clear, the Pastor is not being prosecuted for “Islam slurs” (as per the Guardian), or “for calling Islam satanic” (as per the Belfast Telegraph), but for streaming a “grossly offensive” sermon via the internet. It is not (apparently – yet) a crime to denounce Islam or Mohammed from the church pulpit (though the day is surely coming): the crime is to do so via the pulpits of the electronic media. So, if your church live-streams its Sunday sermons, and the content of those sermons may be deemed to be “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character” (as, hopefully, they may be to any sinner), your pastor, priest or vicar can expect a visit from the local constabulary, which obviously has nothing better to do than persecute preachers for ‘hate crime’.

The thing is..

Calling Islam ‘satanic’ isn’t exactly the most sensitive way of reaching out in love to one’s neighbour. Nor is it a particularly effective model of doing mission. Certainly, Pastor James McConnell may find support from the Bible for his views of Islam ( ie an understanding that Allah is not YHWH and that Mohammed is a false prophet [Jer 14:14-16; 1Jn 4:1; Acts 4:12; 2Cor 11:3f]), and to expound these scriptures (even erroneously) ought to fall within the acceptable boundaries of freedom of religion and freedom of expression. But the problem is that the Pastor moves from the Word of God to intellectual ignorance and personal prejudice.

“People say there are good Muslims in Britain – that may be so – but I don’t trust them,” he said. And then we get: “Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell.” The Pastor also told worshippers: “Enoch Powell was a prophet. He called it that blood would flow on the streets and it has happened.”

It is no crime to preach the gospel (or to believe that Enoch Powell was a prophet), but it is a perversion of the gospel (if not an abuse of the pulpit) to denigrate all Muslims, as Pastor James McConnell does. Can you hear Jesus ever preaching: “People say there are good Samaritans in Israel – that may be so – but I don’t trust them..” Not trusting any Muslim anywhere is a particularly facile understanding of human nature which plays to negative stereotypes.

But it must also be observed that not trusting a particular group in society is also not a crime. It is difficult – very difficult – to trust the Liberal Democrats, but that is scarcely a matter for a police investigation.

Perhaps Pastor James McConnell might consider a better way.

Instead of setting out to anatgonise, denigrate, insult and offend, why not adopt the model of mission demonstrated by the Apostle Paul at the Areopagus (Acts 17:16-34)? Why not seize the opportunity of a multi-faith milieu to tell Muslims that Jesus is not merely a prophet, but the Son of God and Saviour who died that they all may be free from the law of Allah which binds?

“Men of Islam! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found a billboard with this inscription: JESUS: A PROPHET OF ISLAM. Now what you worship as Isa the prophet I am going to proclaim to you..”

This is a model for Christian proclamation. St Paul does not condemn the Athenians’ idolatrous false religion: he begins by commending their conviction to their faith. By employing the language of reason and invitation rather than reproach and condemnation, he offers the Church a model for proclamation in a context of ethnic and religious pluralism. He quotes the Greek poets and sees the light within their philosophy, and he builds on this to articulate the name of the God who is the source and destination of their quest for salvation.

If Greek philosophy can be a legitimate discourse for evangelism, then so can Islamic theology, however perverted a particular interpretation may be. If St Paul were to preach today in Bradford, Leicester, Tower Hamlets or Belfast, he would not denigrate an entire community or condemn their beliefs as being “spawned in hell”. But neither would he ignore the presence of idols and turn the other cheek. He would tell of the God of love who sent His own Son to die in order that we might live. He would begin by praising Muslims’ loyalty and devotion to Isa their prophet, and then acknowledging the ‘good’ ones who are patriotic and law-abiding. And then he would tell them that their upper-case ‘Prophet’ was both preceded and surpassed by their lower-case prophet, who happens to be Prophet, Priest and King; the Word of God; the Spirit of God; Saviour and Redeemer of the world.

This is an opportunity for evangelism – to discuss who Jesus really is and examine why the Isa of the Qur’an is not the Jesus of the Bible.

Of course, if you prefer, you ought to be free to preach and piss everybody off without the threat of police interference. This being the case, why is Pastor James McConnell on trial for streaming a sermon in which he says, “Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell”, when Professor Richard Dawkins broadcasts that “Islam is one of the great evils in the world”?

  • Dreadnaught

    A person is guilty of an offence if, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another…

    Just look at those vaporous words … What a bloody stupidly phrased law!
    But from the clips presented Dawkins was being interviewed by another agent and seemingly was not instrumental in broadcasting the piece – but never let a chance go by to draw him in to the spotlight eh Cranny? The Pastor on the other hand orchestrated his sermon to do exactly that.
    Again its an other example of how the laws being passed today are so far behind the technology of communication in the 21st Century that they are nothing more than a licence for lawyers to print money.

    • “Professor Richard Dawkins broadcasts that..” Do, please, note the hyperlink (if you can be bothered), which will take you to a website, for the broadcasting of which Dawkins is somewhat “instrumental”.

      • Dreadnaught

        I did indeed follow the hyperlnk which took me to’ Atheist Stream’ about which I have no knowledge as to Dawkins’ association other than that the source distributor is Youtube.

  • Dominic Stockford

    He’s right though. Time to stop selfcensorship and get on with proclaiming the Gospel along with, on occasion, those truths that spring from it.

  • john in cheshire

    It’s a pity that the police and the prosecution service have nothing better to do with their time and tends to suggest they are overstaffed if they can pursue such frivolous cases.

    • magnolia

      Some could clearly be more usefully employed in child protection, which is woefully understaffed.

  • Owl

    I do not agree with what James McConnell says but I will defend his right to say it.
    It’s called freedom of speech.

    • CliveM

      It’s curious, but it seems you can say what you want as long as everyone you say it to is in the same room!

      Suspect the PSNI were scrabbling around trying to find some way of charging him.

  • Johnny Rottenborough

    If St Paul were to preach today in Bradford…

    …he would be beaten up and arrested long before he could get to the ‘Saviour and Redeemer’ bit:

    ‘Two Christian preachers were stopped from handing out Bible extracts by police because they were in a Muslim area, it was claimed yesterday. They say they were told by a Muslim police community support officer that they could not preach there and that attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity was a hate crime. The community officer is also said to have told the two men: “You have been warned. If you come back here and get beat up, well, you have been warned.” A police constable who was present during the incident in the Alum Rock area of Birmingham is also alleged to have told the preachers not to return to the district.’—Daily Mail

    • dannybhoy

      That does not surprise me. Regardless of the complexities of secularism, what they all understand is fear. And the people for whom violence is justified when it comes to protecting their religious beliefs know this. Our leaders and officials hide behind ‘hate crimes’ and ‘equality’ and ‘tolerance’, but what really drives them is fear of the consequences of opposing the threat of a religious backlash..

    • Ivan M

      St Paul was a man of steel. The clowns in Bradford would get nowhere with him. He would come up with letters to the faithful in Luton and Birmingham in Urdu. No way in hell he’ll be fazed by this lot.

  • Anton

    His Grace can clearly see two sides to this issue. So can I, but they are not entirely coincident with his two sides.

    I must disagree that to denigrate Islam is to denigrate all Muslims. A belief system is not a human being. Do I denigrate all Nazis by denigrating Nazism, or all communists by denigrating communism? (I have enjoyed the company of people whom I regard as extreme left and extreme right.) It is vital that we be able to say what we like about belief systems; and shame on recent governments for not distinguishing, and for causing the law to heed people whingeing in court that their feelings have been hurt. Under the free speech system that we used to have they could always reply, of course. Meanwhile it is clear that the law is not enforced impartially, which is a further disgrace on our legislature/executive/judiciary.

    The congregation I am in does not put into the public domain all of its sermons, for this very reason. Are we ducking out in a way that Christians ought not? I don’t think so; nobody thinks the less of congregations in Saudi Arabia or North Korea for not advertising their meetings on the internet. I would have said as much to Pastor McConnell and let him make his own choice of whether to upload his sermon.

    As to what he said, the Quran and the Bible differ over the personality and actions of the sole Creator God. Which of the two books to believe is a matter of faith, and both Muslims and Christians may reasonably ponder the ultimate source of what they believe to be distortions of the truth.

    • grutchyngfysch

      But I would denigrate Nazis. Even those who were of the inactive middle class variety living their quiet suburban lives and not shooting prisoners and shovelling bodies into ovens. The fact that there were peaceable, law abiding Nazis who loved their kids and looked after stray animals does not change the need to denigrate them for their adherence to that ideology.

      If some really believes that Islam is satanic they can’t be ambiguous about its followers. Doesn’t mean that you murder them or harass them intentionally and from a Christian perspective we must love our enemies. But you don’t pretend that they aren’t your spiritual enemies.

      • Anton

        Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against… the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms – Ephesians 6:12.

  • carl jacobs

    This is Secularism hoisted by its own petard. It prattles on about religious freedom, but it assumes a certain kind of religion when it does so. But then along comes Islam and it doesn’t quite know what to do about it. Western Secular culture is decidedly Christian in origin. Islam would rebuild that foundation in its own image, and the surrounding culture knows that. There are lots of things about Islam that it desires to suppress, and its chosen instrument of suppression is the “hate speech law.” But it can’t very well just target Islam. It has to find non-Islamic targets in order to demonstrate the religious neutrality of the law’s application. Islam is forcing the culture to decide how it wants to limit religious influence. But in order to protect itself from is Islam it has to be seen protecting itself from every expression “hateful religion.”

    The problem then is the lack of metaphysical foundation at the heart of Secularism. It doesn’t know how to oppose a religion that is hostile to its very essence and yet maintain its public commitment to religious freedom. Its weak and ineffectual answer has been to encourage the development of inert and inoffensive religion along the lines of the CoE. It wants to build up the kind of religion that doesn’t make exclusive metaphysical claims against other religions (theistic or otherwise), and doesn’t seek to project itself outside the walls of a building – unless it is speaking about temporal concerns acceptable to the Secular culture. In so doing it makes a mockery of claims about religious freedom. But then Secularism has never actually valued that concept. It is rather the concession of the enlightened to weaker minds.

    This isn’t going to get better. And it isn’t going to work. So it will move relentlessly in the direction of overt suppression. Any religious doctrine that does not conform to the modern Western dogma of “Truth is unknowable” will become “hate speech.” It is the re-emergence of the crime of heresy. Except this time it is heresy against Secularism.

    • Anton

      Secularists know how to proscribe political organisations and would be wise to read the scriptures of differing religions through political as well as religious spectacles.

      • carl jacobs

        Islam has no distinction between religious and political. This is one of the problems. The Secular culture assumes that all religions in his sacred secular space will makes this differentiation. They don’t. So now what does your typical average Secularist do when confronted with the falsehood of his assumptions?

        • Anton

          The average secularist urgently needs to be asked that question.

          • dannybhoy


          • sarky

            Right off the bat I would like to say I don’t agree with this guy being charged. I think most grown ups will see it for what it is and until stupidity is made illegal will just ignore him.
            To me this seems to be an irish people, for so long identified in religious terms, fighting back. The recent ssm vote and now the taking out of a religious leader demonstrates that the Irish now wish to be defined by more than religion.
            The church has lost its grip on Ireland and this is the inevitable consequence. (P.s. I think islam is just a sideshow, they were out to get this guy, end of)

          • dannybhoy

            Thank you Sarky.

          • sarky

            Your very welcome 🙂

          • Martin

            I don’t think he answered the question.

          • dannybhoy

            He responded though, and he actually responded without his usual sarky/smirky/mocking manner.
            Be grateful.

          • Pubcrawler

            “The recent ssm vote and now the taking out of a religious leader demonstrates that the Irish now wish to be defined by more than religion.”

            That may be true of the Republic, but this was in Belfast, and, for example, NI recently voted to reject SSM.

    • dannybhoy

      Got it in one Carl.

    • len

      Secularists expect everyone to play with the rulebook that secularists have devised and if they don`t (as with Islam) then they have no answer……

    • chiefofsinners

      All very true.
      How should we then live? – Not just an excellent book but also a quote from Ezekiel 33. “If thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it ;if he do not turn from his way, he shall die I his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Therefore, o son of man, speak…”

    • Martin


      It is notable that some time back Premier Radio were chastised for taking a biblical standard on religion by the regulatory authorities. They capitulated and are now at least as wishy washy as the CoE.

  • cypruspete

    Or, another equally germane question might be;

    why is Pastor James McConnell on trial for streaming a sermon in which
    he says, “Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell”, when mosques, Imams, and even official communications from muslim states regularly broadcast the vilest anti-semitic bile, which would make Pastor McConnell’s comments seem the epitome of learned theosophical analysis, not only without arrest but, it appears, without sanction of any kind, because they are, apparently, only asserting their cultural imperative

    • Royinsouthwest

      The double standards certainly breach the “equality” laws, but then everyone knows that some people are more equal than others.

  • carl jacobs

    Archbishop Cranmer

    or, more accurately, the damnable invective of a devout Calvinist

    Oh, give me a break. Have you read Elijah’s taunts at the priests of Baal? Or the sermon by Stephen when he was martyred? Or the account of the Lord Jesus calling the Pharisees a brood of vipers or whited stone sepulchers? These were not statements calculated to avoid offense. Better “damnable invective” than the bloodless emasculated pontifications of the CoE.

    • dannybhoy

      I don’t like “Better “damnable invective” than the bloodless emasculated pontifications of the CoE.”
      butr I have to agree with you. Far better to stand for something than to try and be everybody’s friend…

    • “Oh, give me a break.” …. left or right leg?

      “These were not statements calculated to avoid offense.”

      Jack thinks you may be missing the point. Weren’t they all made to the Jews, a people who were well versed and trained in scripture and who should have known better; a people who had been favoured with God’s revelation and separated out to await the Messiah?

      Stephen preceded his truthful, offensive remarks with a comprehensive explanation of the Gospel of Christ and how it was foreshadowed in the Old Testament and where Judaism was at fault.

      “Stiff-necked race, your heart and ears still uncircumcised, you are for ever resisting the Holy Spirit, just as your fathers did. There was not one of the prophets they did not persecute; it was death to foretell the coming of that just man, whom you in these times have betrayed and murdered; you, who received the law dictated by angels, and did not keep it.

      At hearing this, they were cut to the heart, and began to gnash their teeth at him.”

      Preaching to Muslims, who Christians believe are prisoners of a false worldly ideology, or those ignorant of the Gospel today, requires a somewhat different approach. Common points have to be found and built on. In these situations “damnable invective”, be it Calvinist or Catholic, is unlikely to succeed.

      Jack does agree though that “bloodless emasculated pontifications”, that accommodate the Gospel to the world, are ineffective too.

      • dannybhoy

        “Weren’t they all made to the Jews, a people who were well versed and trained in scripture and who should have known better; a people who had been favoured with God’s revelation and separated out to await the Messiah?”

        And this is the problem with multiculturalism being imposed on what was a largely homogenous society, diivided as it was by differences of Christian theology, but nevertheless essentially Christian and with a long shared history.
        Islam is diametrically opposed to Christian values and the freedoms and institutions to which it led, so in order to hold it all together we have toi keep making concessions.
        When I was a young Christian you could take part in an outreach anywhere in our country. You might sometimes encounter hostility or ribaldry, but no one would have ever thought of describing Christian evangelism as ‘a hate crime..’

      • carl jacobs

        He wasn’t evangelizing, Jack. He was expositing. What He said is true. Islam is satanic. It is heathen. It is a set of doctrines spawned in Hell. Those are all true spiritual judgments that stand apart from the political and temporal implications some might wish to attach. He was teaching doctrinal truth. That won’t matter to the court which seeks to isolate such ideas from the public square. The court won’t allow for the distinction between spiritual and secular. Why? Because it is desperately trying to figure out how to civilize Islam and Islam allows for no such distinction.

        They are applying a single tool to all religions in an effort to contain Islam. This isn’t about evangelism or exposition. It’s about a secular culture trying to maintain its Christian character even as it kicks Christianity to the curb. The pastor’s crime wasn’t giving offense. His crime was asserting religious particularity in a culture that increasingly fears the religious particularity of Islam.

        • CliveM


          As with so much, this is about fear. The Secular world is frightened of Islam. But are unable to face up to it. The pretence is that’s because of religious tollerance. The desire for a ‘liberal’ society. But it’s a lie, the root is fear.

          Which is why those who do take on Islam have to be shut down. Not because what they say is a lie, but because it is the truth. Truth what’s more that offends and risks antagonising Islam and Islam represents a frightening, violent threat.

          Which is why those who hate faith attack Christians. Islam is a threat, religion must therefore be a threat. But fear means those who actually pose the threat aren’t confronted and in these terms, a scape goat, Christianity, must be attacked instead.

          It’s why Christianity is ridiculed and threatened and not Islam. It’s why Linus spews his bile here and not on some other site. It’s not because he is smart, it’s because he’s afraid.

        • It may well be true – but what was the point if it hardens attitudes and causes enmity between groups? As a minister, in 21st Century Britain, his political and religious expositions have to be crafted to achieve positive ends.

          • Martin


            The only positive end is warning of the falseness of the false religion. You cannot have partnership between good and evil. And yes, you should be reading between the lines.

  • grutchyngfysch

    Funny. Couldn’t the “them” which McConnell didn’t trust refer to the people telling him about the virtues of Islam?

    The sentence structure certainly permits it. And I’d agree, I don’t trust the milk sop words of those who profess the innocence of Islam.

    Point of order. Paul never praises the worship of false gods. He notes the devotion of those who nominally worship the God whom they do not know. Since Islam does not profess ignorance about either God or Jesus it is essential not to praise their false teaching about either but instead to rebuke it in the light of the Gospel.

  • len

    In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
    (George Orwell)
    It seems that time is now.

    Look at all the’ hate crimes’ being committed worldwide in whose name are they committed?……. of course it is ‘Allah’.

    We need more people ministers and politicians who are not afraid to speak the truth…..

    • sarky
      • Pubcrawler
      • Martin


        Still waiting for you to inject any reality.

        • sarky


          • Martin


            I give you nothing but reality, which you seem to have trouble accepting.

          • sarky

            Your myth is not reality.

          • Martin


            I don’t have a myth, I have reality, as you know.

      • Seriously? This is your dose of “reality”?!!! Christian’s aren’t complaining about being the “victims” of specific “hate crimes” [a nomenclature I reject] – we are the victims of “hate crimes” per se by being the alleged “perpetrators” of them. Hence the whole topic of this blog post … or maybe you failed to notice that? We are not saying Pastor McConnel has been the victim of a “hate crime”, but that he is the victim of “hate crime” laws. See the difference?

        • sarky

          Have a little read again of what I was replying to and then jump down off your high horse.

  • HedgehogFive

    “When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles.”

    Frank Herbert, Children of Dune.

    • Ivan M

      They don’t write science fiction like they used to.

      • avi barzel

        I wouldn’t know. After cycling through all the Dune books a few times about fifteen years ago, I gave up on sci-fi entirely because nothing else in that genre came close to Herbert’s brilliance. Not remotely.

        • Ivan M

          It was good to grow up in that era. Those of us who were born between 1955 and 1965, or around had the best time. No shortage of food, no pressure at school, jobs for the asking.

          • avi barzel

            All gone now…

          • Kate HA

            No Islam might I add? No political correctness under pressure of criminal prosecution.

    • avi barzel

      Alrightee! Finally a Dunie here!

      • CliveM

        Dune was great, the sequels not so.

        • avi barzel

          Stylistically they were more difficult, but the universe and “histories” he built, not to mention the theological complexities….wow!

          • CliveM

            Well I will admit, to follow Dune would be a struggle. A book can be very good and still come of second best. I think bit was me expectation that was disappointed.

            I gave up after 3.

            But yes a powerful imagination and technically brilliant.

  • I haven’t watched the sermon, and feel no particular urge to defend what may or may not be in it.

    However, read on its own terms, this blog is illogical. Mr. Hilton criticises a preacher who was expounding to a Christian congregation about how they should understand Islam, on the grounds that that exposition was not the best model for evangelistic outreach to a Muslim audience.

    Well, yes. What is your point?

    • Anton

      Perhaps that it could have been unwise to put it in the public domain given the iniquitous laws against free speech nowadays. Certainly that should have been a matter for specific informed prayer by speaker, host and webhost.

  • Mrs S wilson

    People in Northern Ireland are appalled at the double standards of the PPS which allows an IRA speaker to abuse the UK freely and with swear words at a republican rally, yet prosecutes a 78 year old pastor who has had a quadruple bypass, liver problems, cancer and diabetes, and whose church has built and supports an orphanage in Ethiopia with 1200 mainly Muslim children in it. And as with the Ashers bakery case, we are angry at taxpayers’ money being used to do this.

    • Phil R

      You may be angry but you miss the point

      The British Government has surrendered to the IRA

      • dannybhoy

        As I said it’s the threat of violence. However veiled..

      • grutchyngfysch

        I wonder if there’s a popular phrase which could be used in response to that statement? 😀

  • Inspector General

    Hah! There’ll be no prosecution. Come next week or the week after, it will be decided on high that ‘prosecuting will not be in the public interest’.

    So what if it goes to trial by jury. Do the authorities really believe they can find 12 men, women, good and true who do not believe that Islam is violent and evil. And they know all about violence and evil up there.

    • CliveM

      I’m well behind the times in NI, but would it be jury trial?

      • Inspector General

        Well yes. One presumes (as he’s too idle to look it up) that the potential penalty includes a custodial sentence.

        Your Inspector is on a winner again. Time to bet the cat again at Paddy Powers…

        • CliveM

          Done a bit of checking and it is trial by jury. Interesting.

          Btw, just do I don’t get another ticking off – gambling, it’s the sin of Beelzebub, repent, repent say I. Turn back from the path of perdition weak and foolish man!!!! :0)

  • Inspector General

    Important point to be made, so listen up chaps. It’s only the English who slavishly adhere to the letter of the law (with the one exception, littering). Possibly unique in Europe. If the law seems to have been broken, then the culprit must be put to the test, and every time. The Irish are not like that at all when it comes to laws. Probably because for generations they had been directly ruled by England, and much law coming over to them was unsuited to them. Anyway, it was all greeted with suspicion. So, their attitude is, is there any worth in applying the law, or is it too much trouble. Take France. You can smoke in cafes over there, yet they have much the same anti smoking legislation we have.

    That’s it. As you were…

  • Anton

    ‘Piss’ is indeed in the King James Bible, although not in that sense…

  • Phil R

    I have thought for a while tat the law is deliberately being used here for an outcome not connected with the issue being prosecuted.

    “It is time that equality bore its scythe above all heads……………………….So legislators, place terror on the
    order of the day! ………………. The blade of the law
    should hover over all the guilty”

    Committee of General Security. Reign of Terror. France 1793

    Are we there yet? No, thank God, but the reality is dawning that some groups cannot be criticised.

    • Merchantman

      In a slightly different context one of that august body, the supreme court, was recently banging on about the merits of the French ‘enlightenment’ and thus it seemed he was calling for a Committee of Public Safety. Well looks like someone out there heard and has determined ‘to rid them of a turbulent priest’. Well you know what I mean about the priest bit- apologies Rev McConnel.
      Within the safety of this realm a pastor being prosecuted for preaching what the heavenlies tell him to be true, I wouldn’t have believed it.
      Note the sly ones don’t dare do it with a jury.
      Seems like Charlie would have been prosecuted in the UK.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Your Grace,

    One of the best sermons you have posted. Pastor James McConnel is one of a dying breed of old time Born Again Gospel Preachers of the ilk of the Wesley’s the Jeffery brothers, Spurgeon and many others who never flinched from telling it how it is. For if they fail, they may be failing individuals from hearing from the Holy Spirit and thus not be saved.
    James McConnel said he was born Again 69 years ago and he is still going strong. The power of God has raised him up to be a voice in his land. Should he tell Muslims that they are nice people but deceived? He could, but they need to hear the truth whatever way it comes. It is by Gods grace that the Holy Spirit may speak with them.
    I agree with Paul below. This has nothing to do with what McConnel said. It is being used as a crowbar to attack a great man of God and bring him down. God Bless him and may there be many more of him.

  • IanCad

    While absolutely disgusted with this attack on free speech, I do not think that Pastor McConnell is going about his duty to spread the Gospel in the proper way.
    Harshness and demagoguery may be fine in the political arena but it is not the way to win souls to Christ.

  • I wonder what would happen if the content of many of the Iman’s sermons preached in mosques throughout the UK were broadcast (after being translated)? Well, actually, I don’t. The answer is nothing at all of course. But they would make Pastor James McConnell’s sermon seem rather genteel in comparison

    • magnolia

      I agree, but what seems to happen is that one or two Muslim preachers are made examples of, generally the worst, and then a bit of tit for tat is thrown in. However given that Jesus was a whole lot gentler than the Prophet of Islam, there is much more violent preaching both by number and by anger of Islam than of Christianity, and yet it is deemed necessary to treat them equally to show scrupulous uniformity of treatment. Which is where things get very stupid, and produce gross injustice like this.

  • “If St Paul were to preach today in Bradford, Leicester, Tower Hamlets or Belfast, he would not denigrate an entire community or condemn their beliefs as being “spawned in hell”. “

    But Pastor McConnel wasn’t speaking to any of those communities. He was speak to a Christian congregation. I’ve listened to what he said, and there’s not a single word that I disagree with. All good sound doctrine. He even says at one point, “there will come a time when to say these things will be against the law”. Seems he was more prescient than he realised!

  • I have heard several sermons by Pastor McConnel and I am not a great fan of him or his style of preaching.
    The Lord Jesus Christ had compassion on the multitudes, and the Apostle Paul never laid into the pagans either at Lystra (Acts 14:8ff) or Athens (Acts 17:22ff) in the way that McConnel did.
    The people that the Lord Jesus pitched into were the scribes and Pharisees who were leading the people astray (Matt. 23). If He were on earth bodily today, He would be attacking the Bishops, Steve Chalke and others who deny fundamental Christian doctrine. Moslems He would patiently teach (Mark 6:34).

    • Martin


      To be fair, he wasn’t preaching to Muslims but to Christians.

      • len

        This sermon went out on the internet I believe?.

        • Martin


          Many sermons do, I defy anyone to listen to them all.

    • len

      Jesus Christ is a ‘number one target’ for radical Islam today today….When Muslim extremists are abusing and murdering Christians it is Christ they are attacking…

      Saul( who later became Paul the Apostle) was persecuting Christians in the name of his ‘god’ when hit by a blazing light Paul asked who the figure in the light confronting him was “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.

      • Exactly so. Our Lord had mercy on Saul of Tarsus and saved him. There is no indication that there was any such mercy for Annas or Caiaphas.
        I believe that it will be more tolerable in the Day of Judgement for members of Isis than for Canon Michael Smith who is ‘blessing’ (or has ‘blessed’) the York ‘Gay Pride’ March, or for the Bishop of Buckingham who has described the doctrines that he swore to teach and uphold as ‘lousy’ (Mark 3:28-29).

  • carl jacobs

    Blowers? You upvoted my defense of a Calvinist? This isn’t like you, Blowers. But it is encouraging. I suspect you must be coming around at long last. Better late than never.

    • Jack must have missed said defence of Calvinism.

      • carl jacobs

        You aren’t helping, Jack. I’m trying to encourage Blowers, here.

        • Jack is also looking out for Old Blowers.

          • carl jacobs

            Heh. That should make Blower’s head explode. A Catholic … nay, a Jesuitical undercover spy … steeped in treacherous covert Vatican ops is “looking out for him.”

            Maybe you are helping, after all.

          • The Jesuits?! How terribly 16th Century of you. The Jesuits lost their way some time ago. As for covert operations, as you know, Jack has failed miserably at this in the past.

          • carl jacobs

            The perfect cover story.

          • This is true.

          • len

            Has Jack still got his cloak and dagger?.I thought he hmmm left that somewhere

  • Everyone is entitled to his opinion and to let others hear it. People can
    choose to be offended or not, to listen to it or not, or to respond
    without violence to it or not. All part of life’s great debates.

    There are a lot of Muslim preachers’ broadcasts on You Tube that are
    highly offensive and untrue, so why aren’t those who are responsible
    for publishing and distributing them arrested and tried in a court?

    I think Pastor McConnell’s sermon is not at all offensive, he speaks the truth and it lends balance to the masses of islamic rantings broadcast via electronic media that are much more offensive such as saying that “Allah can send a
    tidal wave that can sink any warship that is attacking muslims, and
    that Allah can send lightening that can take down helicopters and
    planes that are bombing muslims and Allah can send an earthquake to
    swallow up any kind of army that dares to raise a finger against the
    muslims especially those in Gaza. “

    “Moderate Muslim” Mehdi Hasan delivers like raging mullah & fiery hate
    preacher to Muslim audiences:

    Why hasn’t Mehdi Hasan been arrested and hauled up in court for his
    broadcasts calling us non-believers cattle and animals, unintelligent and stupid?

  • Marsha James Hardman

    this is freedom of speach…I have seen every muslim that even mentions christians give a grim response to their beliefs, they even have burned down our churches, our monuments, and our bibles and killed our christians..WHY IS THIS MAN BEING PROSECUTED FOR SPEAKING HIS MIND ABOUT THEIR BELIEFS????

    • Merchantman

      I hope the court allows the defendant an opportunity to convict them!

  • Martin

    You Grace

    A somewhat dishonest posting. Paul, at Mars Hill was preaching to the heathen, Pastor James McConnell is preaching in a church service, to believers. The two are not the same. I have no doubt that if his audience had been followers of Mohammed he would have used different words, just as Paul did when speaking to believers of dogs who mutilate the flesh.

    It seems to me that there is a misunderstanding about Muslims, that they follow a religion of peace. Mohammed was a warlord, he fought battles and killed people. The Qur’an commands violence on those who do not accept it’s teaching. But, as I understand it, it teaches the Muslim, living in a land where they are a minority, to present a peaceful, law abiding face to people around until they have sufficient strength to take over.

    So I think all Muslims should be observed through the pages of their holy book, they are children of Satan and their need is for a Saviour, just like the Atheist. But do not expect either group to treat Christians with fairness, either the Muslim or the Atheist judge in the courts, or even the public prosecution service in any of our countries which fail to prosecute those they favour when they break the law.

    And by the way, you are a member of a Calvinistic church so you shouldn’t be criticising others who are at least honest with their doctrine.

    • magnolia

      Being fair, and as Christians we are called to be, there are branches of Islam, and individuals within Islam, who focus particularly on those verses which focus on peace. Having said that you are right about the warrior aspects of their Prophet.

      • Martin


        They are specifically told to live peaceably with their neighbours when in the minority.

        • magnolia

          What about the Ahmadiyyas for example, 10 to 20 M of them, who, although they believe some very strange things, are also avid proponents of peace, and the end of any religious warfare? All I’m saying is that some portions, including the Ahmaddiyas, focus on earlier more peaceful beliefs within Islam, as do some individuals, and like Christians, it’s dangerous and inaccurate to lump them all together. It sounds a bit obvious put like that, but, despite that, they’re frequently perceived as a unified body when they aren’t.

          • Martin


            But the Ahmadiyya don’t accept the whole of the Qur’an and are not accepted by most Moslems. They are more akin to the Quakers or JWs in relation to Christianity.

    • len

      This sermon went out on the internet so in effect this sermon was addressed to’ the World’ (which is’ the problem’ as regards ‘ Political correctness’ His Grace has stated this fact in his article)

      • Martin


        As I’ve said, one of a great many.

  • IanCad

    Last night I posted a comment decrying harshness and demagoguery as a means of spreading the Gospel.

    At that timeI had listened only to the first few minutes of Pastor McConnell’s presentation.

    A few minutes ago I listened to the rest of his talk.

    Harshness? Perhaps his grating Belfast accent could be described thus.

    Demagoguery? Absolutely not. Here was a man praising his “Lovely Saviour” and inviting all who would to enter there with Him. Passion? Yes! For the lukewarm shall be spat out.

    I owe Pastor McConnell an apology.

    • dannybhoy

      From the Christians I have worked with from Northern Ireland I would say seriousness and solemnity is a part of their makeup. Not that there isn’t humour, but they take their faith seriously (and yes, I am talking mainly about Protestant Christians.)
      This pastor was preaching like we used to preach in mainland Britain when Christianity was the dominant (and active) faith.

      May I recommend to all who love the Lord this song “All is well” from Robin Mark, a Christian musician from Belfast..

      • Kate HA

        Thank you ‘dannybhoy’; this lifted my heart and brought back many Sunday School afternoons praising our Lord. I am Northern Irish Protestant and, a lifelong Friend of Israel. May God Bless you in your work.

  • Philip___

    “If your church live-streams its Sunday sermons, and the content of those sermons may be deemed to be “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character” (as, hopefully, they may be to any sinner), your pastor, priest or vicar can expect a visit from the local constabulary, which obviously has nothing better to do than persecute preachers for ‘hate crime’.”

    re the bit I put in italics, while it’s true local constabularies should be more careful on prioritisation of time and resources, it is politicians who pass laws that lead to Gospel preachers being prosecuted that need to be blamed more than the local constabularies.

    In too many cases, laws that have seeming good intentions, such as tackling extremism and such as improving security, end up being used instead against Christians and the church. Hate laws, and the “British Values school standards” being cases in point. The proposed “Extremist Disruption Orders” are expected to be used as much against Christians as dealing with terrorism. The problem often might seem to be making characteristics protected by the Equality Act the subject of protection. And the working of this Act has meant Christianity is the bottom of the hierarchy of protected characteristics.

    Better to concentrate on incitement to murder and violence etc than trying to police speech and thought.

  • Orwell Ian

    The prosecution of pastor James has nothing to do with truth and very little to do with hate speech. It is more a matter of enforcing community cohesion. Multiculturalism has failed, even Cameron said as much. We live in a Failed State. That is to say it has failed socially. Our security services are run ragged by a mounting terror threat. The Police and Border Agency are overwhelmed with illegals. The Government lives in constant dread of the one terrorist who will get through and cause mass carnage. So they use prosecutions like this one send a message. Don’t rock the boat. Self-censor or else.

    This prosecution and proposed EDO’s are a frantic response to keep the lid on mounting tensions that simmer just below the morass of multicultural failure. They cannot work forever as their longevity will be undermined by perceived bias in operation. The luckless Pastor James is prosecuted while Islamic clerics have free rein to spout more or less whatever invective they like against Jews and Infidels of every belief or persuasion. Furthermore the authorities are foolish to prosecute Pastor James while turning a blind eye to high profile secularists who express similar views about Islam. Bias turns prosecution into persecution. More people than ever will now tune in to Pastor James’s sermon. As a result of all this publicity his forthright views on Islam will get an even bigger airing. He may well become a celebrity underdog. If they convict him he will become a hero. If he were to die in jail, a martyr.

  • dannybhoy

    I know this is off topic, but it is related to Islam and how Muslims are treated in Israel, giving the lie to Jewish anti Muslim sentiment.
    An Israeli camerman wants to see how religious Muslims are treated by Israelis in the streets of Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem.
    He films in secret.
    Watch the vid
    Ignore the frenetic digi-drums…..

  • David

    The Pastor tells the plain truth. He does not hate.
    But darkness always hates the truth.
    Truth and free speech must be defended. The Gospel must be preached.
    I salute this pastor.
    It warmed my Christian heart and soul to hear the truth being preached.
    God bless him.

  • CliveM

    Sometimes everyday seems like April 1st. Seemingly certain persons now see advice on how to block out Mosque noise, as a hate crime.

    Earplugs BTW!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • The Bilkonian

    And yet the vile and hate filled Anjem Choudary is on the streets and in the mosques, as I write, spouting his poison. This is not just a question of free speech, it is the selective free speech that our dhimmi officials, spineless politicians and politicised police are promoting. As for the laws that are being enacted to allow this gagging of free speech, deliberately vaguely drawn so as to allow any interpretation to be applied as suits the CPS. Effectively free speech npo longer exists. You can point the finger at Labour for this, but the Tories have done sod all to right this wrong, all of which is illegal under the English Bill of Right 1689.