Belfast pastor James McConnell not guilty: ‘I want to assure Muslims I love them, what I am against is their theology’

From the Belfast Telegraph

Pastor James McConnell today declared that justice had been done after he was cleared of charges linked to an anti-Islamic sermon. The evangelical preacher walked free from court after being acquitted of both counts by a judge in Belfast. Outside court he said: “I am very happy that there is liberty to preach the gospel.”

District judge Liam McNally said: “The courts need to be very careful not to criticise speech which, however contemptible, is no more than offensive. It is not the task of the criminal law to censor offensive utterances. Accordingly I find Pastor McConnell not guilty of both charges.”

There was applause at Belfast Magistrates Court as the verdict was delivered . . . Outside court, a large crowd sang hymns as he emerged.

A spokeswoman for the Public Prosecution Service said the case was brought because of the “characterisation by Pastor McConnell of all Muslims as potential terrorists by virtue of their faith”.In a statement it said: “The court has decided that while offensive this comment, in the context in which it was made, did not reach the grossly offensive threshold required by law for a criminal conviction.

Pastor McConnell said that while he would repeat his message in the future, he would word his comments differently because he was conscious he might hurt ordinary Muslims. “. . . what I am against is their theology and what they believe in. If there are Muslims out there, I want to assure them I love them and, if they need help, I am there to help them, but their theology and their beliefs I am totally against them.”

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3 Responses

  1. @ 25 cents I have read the lyrics to the song Dreams sung by The Cranberries and see no connection with the post.
    http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/cranberries/dreams.html

    The acquitted pastor in Belfast stated afterwards that he loved individual Muslims while hating their theology. I wish the late Rev. Ian Paisley had said something like that about Roman Catholics over 40 years ago.

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