Pastor James McConnell stands trial this week for calling Islam “heathen” and “Satanic” in a sermon last year.
“As I have said many times, I refuse to be gagged and if necessary will go to prison; but be assured, when I come out, I will start again and preach the truth of the gospel!” McConnell wrote before the trial.
McConnell says he delivered the sermon in May 2014 in defense of persecuted convert Miriam Ibrahim.
“This was my main reason for preaching that sermon,” McConnell wrote. “Surely a so-called ‘religious’ organization (who brutally would do this to a young woman; mutilating thousands of women; and imprisoning, torturing, crucifying and beheading thousands of men) ought to be branded ‘satanic’!”
Now, according to BBC, McConnell is charged with improper use of a public electronic communications network and causing a grossly offensive message to be sent by means of a public electronic communications network. .
James McConnell, 78, could serve six months in jail for violating the Communications Act because the sermon was broadcast over the Internet.
The prosecutor says the case is not about freedom of religion or expression. He said the pastor’s words were “grossly offensive.”
Meanwhile, McConnell is finding support from a suprising source. A prominent Muslim scholar says he supports the right of people of all faiths to debate and he has pledged to go to jail with McConnell if he is convicted.