Evangelical pastor on trial for branding Islam 'satanic'
A pastor is facing a court trial this week on a government charge that his message, delivered through a public electronic communications because it was online, was grossly offensive to the point of being criminal.
The decision that results from the case, which is based on the pastor’s description of Islam as a “doctrine spawned in hell,” could determine whether Christian pastors will be allowed to preach biblical doctrine in the United Kingdom going forward.
U.TV in the United Kingdom reports that Pastor James McConnell, 78, of Shore Road, Newtownabbey, is facing a three-day trial for charges stemming from alleged violations of the 2003 Communications Act.
There are two charges pending, the improper use of a public electronic communications network and causing a “grossly offensive message” to be distributed, the report said.
His sermon, delivered from the pulpit of Whitewell Metropolitan Chapel of north Belfast, will be the subject of the Belfast Magistrates Court case.
The Daily Mail reported some weeks ago that hundreds turned out in support of McConnell, when the pastor made an initial court appearances.
“I believe, for the prosecution, this is a hot potato,” the Mail reported he said at the time. “They don’t know how to handle it.”
He said he was “looking forward to testifying if they give me a chance. Either they try me and put me in prison or I am free to preach the gospel.”