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A Christian preacher in Ireland has been acquitted of charges that stemmed from his description of Islam as being “spawned in hell,” but the threat to speech remains because the judge’s ruling was based on the fact the words didn’t rise to the level of being “grossly offensive.”

Cleared of charges was pastor James McConnell, 78, from Shore Road in Newtownabbey, County Antrim.

His comments came in a 2014 sermon, where he said, “People say there are good Muslims in Britain – that may be so – but I don’t trust them. Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell.”

The sermon was delivered from the pulpit of Whitewell Metropolitan Chapel of north Belfast, and became the subject of a Belfast Magistrates Court case.

According to a report in the BBC, the judge’s conclusion was that the speech was “offensive,” but not “grossly offensive.”

McConnell also compared Muslims to the Irish Republican Army.

“Fifteen years ago, Britain was concerned of IRA cells right throughout the nation,” he said. “They done a deal with the IRA because they were frightened of being bombed. Today, a new evil has arisen. There are cells of Muslims right throughout Britain, can I hear an amen, right throughout Britain, and this nation is going to enter into a great tribulation, a great trial.”

“House of War: Islam’s Jihad Against the World” conveys what the West needs to know about Islam and the violent, expansionary ideology that seeks the subjugation and destruction of other faiths, cultures and systems of government

McConnell commented after the verdict that he regretted that Muslims thought he was “out to hurt them,” but a Muslim community spokesman identified only as Dr. Al-Wazzan told the BBC such language “is definitely irresponsible and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”

WND reported that his text for the sermon was 1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

Pastor McConnell says he wrote that sermon to protest “… the terrible injustice done to a young Muslim woman named Miriam Ibrahim who was converted to Christianity and for marrying a Christian man. Miriam Ibrahim was pregnant and was to receive eighty lashes and possibly martyrdom.”

After his sermon, Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service determined it allegedly was a violation of the 2003 Communications Act because it involved “sending, or causing to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive.”

“House of War: Islam’s Jihad Against the World” conveys what the West needs to know about Islam and the violent, expansionary ideology that seeks the subjugation and destruction of other faiths, cultures and systems of government

McConnell’s legal woes for speaking publicly about Islam are not unique. Government fines and punishments levied against Christians practicing their faith is the norm in many Middle Eastern nations. Some recent examples include:

But increasingly, speaking out against Islam from a biblical position is coming into conflict with hate-speech legislation in many Western nations. In 2007, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution that “defamation of religion … leads to violations of human rights” and stated that “… freedom of expression … should be exercised with responsibility and may therefore be subject to limitations” expressly deploring “the use of the print, audio-visual and electronic media, including the Internet … to incite … xenophobia or related intolerance and discrimination toward Islam. …”

In 2007, the Ontario Provincial Human Rights Commission, acting on complaints by the Canadian Islamic Congress, opened an investigation of Maclean’s magazine for publishing excerpts of Mark Steyn’s book, “America Alone.” Following massive public protest, the case was finally dropped. But in a letter to Maclean’s, Jennifer Lynch, the head of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, wrote: “Mr. Steyn would have us believe that words, however hateful, should be give free reign [sic]. History has shown us that hateful words sometimes lead to hurtful actions that undermine freedom and have led to unspeakable crimes. That is why Canada and most other democracies have enacted legislation to place reasonable limits on the expression of hatred.”

More recently, the Quebec National Assembly has taken up Bill 59 which would assign new powers to the Quebec Human Rights Commission (QHRC) to combat hate speech, allowing for the censoring of speech that promotes “fear of the other.” The bill would also allow the QHRC to prosecute websites that disparage or denounce Islam. Currently, Bill 59 remains in the Assembly for review and amendment.

In the U.S., President Obama ushered into law an anti-hate speech piece of legislation that even promoters admitted would treat Christians differently from others regarding their speech. The nation also has seen a large increase in attacks on the right of conscience and association for Christians, especially in the realm of homosexual rights and marriage.

Until recently, the First Amendment right to free speech has blocked attempts by Washington to impose limits on unflattering opinions or descriptions of Islam and of its radical adherents. But this situation may be changing.

In 2013, Bill Killian, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, attended a public meeting in Tullahoma to discuss how combat those who violate Muslim civil rights by posting inflammatory documents targeting Muslims on social media.

“This is an educational effort with civil rights laws as they play into freedom of religion and exercising freedom of religion,” Killian told the Tullahoma News. “This is also to inform the public what federal laws are in effect and what the consequences are.”

More recently, Attorney General Loretta Lynch has threatening legal action against any “anti-Muslim rhetoric” that “edges toward violence.”

Last month, 82 Democrat congressional sponsors introduced HR 569. The resolution, which is still in committee, condemns “… violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States” and “… denounces in the strongest terms the increase of hate speech … targeted against mosques, Muslims, or those perceived to be Muslim.”

 

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