James McConnell — Irish preacher, who recently appeared in court for his controversial comments from the pulpit. In the sermon, which was broadcast on the Internet, he called Islam, quote, “satanic”. According to the Prosecutor in court, so the pastor violated laws against inciting hatred. Last week the judge ruled in favor of pastor McConnell. And now he’s in touch with the Studio “MAN” on Skype from Belfast, Northern Ireland.
MHN Pastor McConnell, how did you react when you heard the verdict of acquittal?
James McConnell: I was very happy and satisfied. If we lost in court, then your program and other programs that are broadcast throughout the United Kingdom and the United States, would be under scrutiny. Today there are some faceless people that suppress the gospel and want to destroy the people of God. I was glad when the judge twice declared me innocent. I was so happy!
MAN: the fact that you were sued for your comments, of course, a concern. What is the state of freedom of speech and freedom of religion in the UK now?
Freedom of speech and freedom of religion it is the same as in the United States, also in it, and having freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
MHN: On the court in your favor testified Muslim Imam. The impact this had on you?
It had a wonderful effect. He is a wonderful man! Three times he talked to me on the phone, then got on a plane to see me. He didn’t want no money, no reimbursement. He came willingly and at their own expense. He said, “I had the right to say what I said, and he has the right to say what he says. And that, we believe, is freedom of speech and freedom of thought.”
MHN: You said they would not give up his preaching, but would have chosen other words if I began to read it again. What would you change and why?
In fact, I would not began to change. I meant that I thought that preached within the walls of his Church. It’s a big Church — on 3,5 thousand places. I preached, not knowing that the message will spread around the world, or at least for Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland there are many Muslims who are good people. But there are many that are not. And I would like to emphasize that I didn’t want to offend them. I have criticized the Muslim doctrine. I have criticized Islam. I call Islam satanic and call it so to this day.
MHN: As Christians observe the delicate balance: to tell the truth about Islam and at the same time to love our Muslim neighbors?
Need to imitate the Lord Jesus. How He treated the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Jewish rulers? He called them hypocrites. He called them painted tombs. He called the echidna. He called them devils. He even said to the Pharisees: “You compass sea and the dry land, in order to draw although one; and when that happens, make it a child of hell twice as worse for you.” How did Jesus balance? You must condemn the sin, idolatry, false doctrine. But their behavior and treatment of people we need to show them that you love them and are willing to help them. So did the Christ.
MHN: Under the pretext of political correctness intimidate people and stifle free speech. What would you advise those who are facing the same pressure?
It is difficult to give any advice. My advice is mainly to God’s people. Mainly preachers who passionately love the Lord Jesus. And I would tell them: “depart Not. Stand firmly for Christ. We need to win! There are forces in both the United States and in the UK, able to suppress them! We should expose them, expose and shame!”