An Evangelical pastor in Northern Ireland is now facing prosecution by the government after he denounced the Islamic religion in a sermon he delivered over a year ago.
In 2014, at the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in north Belfast, Pastor James McConnell exclaimed in his sermon, "Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell," according to the Christian Examiner.
McConnell claims he was inspired to preach against the faith system after Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman who was pregnant, was sentenced to death for converting from Islam to Christianity, the Christian Examiner reports.
The government argues that the Evangelical pastor’s speech violates the 2003 Communications Act, which bans “the sending… by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive," notes the BBC.
Despite the fact that the BBC reports McConnell issued a public apology, the Northern Ireland pastor seems to remain firm in his stance. As he told The Telegraph, "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," the Christian Examiner states. As Breitbart notes, McConnell added in the same interview with The Telegraph, “I am 78 years old and in ill health, but jail knows no fear for me.”
This case has many other religious groups watching the outcome. The director of the Evangelical Alliance in Northern Ireland, Peter Lynas told The Telegraph, “I don’t agree with all that Pastor McConnell said, but I am deeply concerned about this prosecution for allegedly sending a message that is grossly offensive. Many churches will be wary of what they place on the Internet until this case is heard and the law is clarified. This prosecution seems to stretch the Communications Act well beyond what parliament intended,” Breitbart reports.