WILL YOU CONFRONT SATANIC ISLAM?
'Satanic Islam' sermon Belfast pastor James McConnell says he faces six months in jail
BY SUZANNE BREEN – 19 JUNE 2015
Controversial preacher James McConnell says he faces up to six months in jail for calling Islam satanic.
In an exclusive interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Pastor McConnell last night defiantly said he'd go to prison rather than withdraw the remarks.
"I am 78 years of age and in ill health but jail knows no fear for me," he said.
"They can lock me up with sex offenders, hoodlums and paramilitaries and I will do my time.
"I have no regrets about what I said. I do not hate Muslims but I denounce Islam as a doctrine and I make no apologies for that. I will be pleading 'not guilty' when I stand in the dock in August."
Pastor McConnell's solicitor Joe Rice vowed to fight the case "tooth and nail".
He called for the PPS to withdraw the charges and said pursuing the case was "an absolute waste of scarce public funds".
He revealed plans to turn the case into a landmark trial and call a range of political, religious and academic witnesses from across the UK to give evidence "in defence of freedom of speech and freedom of religion".
In an interview in his Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle, Pastor McConnell spoke for the first time about the serious health issues he faced. And he revealed that after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, the PSNI had warned him that his life was in danger. He said the decision to prosecute him, and not extremist Muslim preachers in Britain, showed that Christians were being "persecuted" by the authorities.
Pastor McConnell has been charged under the 2003 Communications Act with "sending, or causing to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive".
The charges centre on a sermon he gave in his church last year in which he said "Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell". The sermon was streamed on the internet.
Pastor McConnell said: "I am facing up to six months in jail and a hefty fine for saying what I believe. I have had four heart bypasses, a liver operation and I have cancer and diabetes.
"All I need to get by in prison is my tablets, my reading glasses and books from the library.
Anti-Islamic bus ads appear in major cities
A group called 'Stop Islamization of America' is promoting ads on major city public transportation that urge people to leave the Muslim faith. The anti-Islamic campaign is sparking thought about the religion's place in American society.
By Stephanie Rice, Contributor / July 28, 2010
The growing debate over Islam's place in America, which is escalating in light of plans to build a mosque near ground zero, is increasingly playing out on city streets across the country. On the sides of buses, to be precise.
Several groups are engaging in something of a religious ad war over the merits and misconceptions of Islam, a religion that remains a mystery to many Americans.
Ads by a group calling itself Stop Islamization of America, which aims to provide refuge for former Muslims, read: "Fatwa on your head? Is your family or community threatening you? Leaving Islam? Got questions? Get answers!"
Those ads, appearing on dozens of buses in the San Francisco Bay Area, Miami, and New York, are a response to ones from a Muslim group that say, "The way of life of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Islam. Got questions? Get answers."
In New York, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community sponsored this campaign: "Muslims for Peace. Love for All – Hatred for None."
The ads are part of a larger conversation over Islam's image, which Muslim organizations say has been hurt by extremists both at home and abroad. But many conservative groups say that concern about the spread of Islam isn't alarmist, pointing to evidence of imams in this country inciting militancy and a growing number of American Muslims arrested for plotting terror attacks.
A self-described "anti-jihadist," Pamela Geller is the conservative blogger and executive director of Stop Islamization of America who conceived of the "Leaving Islam" ad campaign. Her bus posters, she says, were partly inspired by the ongoing Florida case involving a teenage girl who ran away from her Muslim parents after converting to Christianity. The girl, Rifqa Bary, made headlines last year when she claimed her father threatened to kill her for becoming a Christian.
Ms. Geller described her campaign as "a defense of religious freedom," in an e-mail response to questions. The goal, she says, is mainly "to help ex-Muslims who are in trouble" and also "to raise awareness of the threat that apostates live under even in the West."
But some religious rights organizations contend that the real intent is to incite fear about a faith that, according to recent studies, remains misunderstood. A 2009 poll by the Pew Research Center found that 38 percent believe Islam is more likely to encourage violence than other religions.
"In this post-9/11 world … it's almost like there's some political and spiritual currency to be gained by being anti-Islamic," says Steve Spreitzer, programs director for the Detroit-based interfaith group Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion.
RefugeFromIslam.com, the website promoted on Geller's ads, contends that Muslim Americans who "long to be free" of their religion are in danger of being killed, and offers protection, including "safe houses," for those who want out. Muslim rights groups and religious leaders say there is no penalty for leaving Islam and that the Koran condemns killing as a sin.
The campaign has whipped up controversy in several cities. In Detroit, which has one of the highest Muslim populations in the country, Geller sued the SMART transit agency in federal district court after it rejected the ads.
In the Bay Area, more than 125 religious leaders of various faiths signed a statement in July denouncing the ads as "Islamophobic" and saying they "promote fear of Muslim Americans."
Geller says calling the ads anti-Islam is "a tactic to divert attention" away from the "plight" of ex-Muslims.
In Florida, the Miami-Dade Transit agency initially pulled the ads but then reinstated them days later after Geller and her group threatened to sue. Miami-Dade Transit spokeswoman Karla Damian says the county attorney had reviewed the ad campaign and determined that "although considered offensive by some, it did not constitute removal."
And in the Bay Area, where both tolerance and free speech are regarded as sacred, the 30 bus ads that recently began rolling through San Mateo County have been met with surprise and bewilderment.
Omar Ahmad, a Muslim city council member in San Mateo who also sits on the board of directors for SamTrans, the bus agency running the ads, says he found the campaign "bizarre" but didn't think it would have much effect. "I have a great deal of faith in folks in the Bay Area to take a critical eye to what they see and read," he says.
Geller and her supporters point out that transit agencies in Detroit and elsewhere had no problem with a controversial campaign sponsored by a group of atheists last year. Those ads, also on buses and billboards in many cities, read: "Don't believe in God? You're not alone." Although the ads offended some, they were deemed free speech.
The ads in New York City sponsored by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community recently began appearing on 100 New York City buses and promote the website MuslimsForPeace.org, which condemns terrorism and advocates for a separation of church and state.
Waseem Sayed, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community spokesperson, says the campaign is not a response to Geller's ads but an ongoing effort to reclaim the public image of Islam, which he says has been "hijacked by extremists."
"It's an effort to have the Muslims, the
silent majority, snatch the flag of Islam away from these extremists and hoist
it above ourselves," he says.
Anti-Muslim ad sparks suit
Bus system refused to show ad aimed at those leaving Islam
Mark Hicks / The Detroit News
Last Updated: May 28. 2010
PJI Defends Pastor Accused of Hate Crime for Distributing
2006-12-12 -- USA Religious News
(AgapePress) - A California pastor has won a major victory for free speech after being accused of a hate crime by a Muslim individual who objected to the tracts the minister was distributing.
Pastor Audie Yancey is a retired U.S. Marine Corps veteran with 20 years of service. Recently, he appeared at the Palmdale City Council meeting holding a copy of the Qur'an and handing out a Christian tract that illustrated the link between Islam and the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
The tract featured a picture of an American flag and beneath it the words, "Remember 9/11: In the name of Allah they brought destruction and death to thousands. In the name of Jesus Christ you can have eternal life."
A Muslim cleric who saw what Yancey was handing out contacted the Antelope Valley Human Relations Task Force and filed a grievance. In his complaint, he accused Yancey of committing a hate crime by distributing 200 of the gospel tracts.
Attorney Karen Milam, senior counsel for the Southern California office of the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), represented the pastor before the task force, arguing that the "hate crime" allegations were completely unfounded.
PJI president Brad Dacus says the case has now been resolved. "The good news is that the charges were completely dropped, and a message was clearly [sent] that religious freedom in this country is still protected," he says.
The Antelope Valley Human Relations Task Force's legal counsel, Superior Court Judge Stella Owens Murrell, agreed with PJI that no hate crime had been committed, and the matter was dismissed. But Dacus says while he and PJI "are pleased that freedom prevailed in this case," that organization and others must press forward to protect Christians' religious liberty and free speech rights.
PJI will continue to work hard to ensure that pastors like Audie Yancey are not muzzled by intolerance, Dacus insists. "If we allow Islamic clerics to silence pastors and Christians in this country," he adds, "then we have lost, without question, not only the war against terrorism but, even more importantly, the war against Christianity and religious freedom."
U.S. Senator Praised for Revoking California Muslim Leader’s Award
By Jim Brown and Jenni Parker
California Senator Barbara Boxer is being praised by conservatives, including the chairman of a terrorism watchdog group, for rescinding an award the senator’s office gave to a Muslim leader who has allegedly referred to Israel as a "racist" and "apartheid" state.
Senator Boxer recently announced that she has withdrawn a certificate of achievement for "outstanding service" that her office had awarded to Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Sacramento chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR. In revoking the award, Boxer "expressed concern" over CAIR’s ties to terrorist groups like Palestinian Hamas and Hezbollah.
Joe Kaufman is chairman of Americans Against Hate and founder of CAIR Watch. He was among those who had called on Boxer to rescind Elkarra’s award and believes the senator made the right decision in doing so.
Kaufman says Elkarra has defended an individual who trained in an al Qaeda jihad camp as well as an imam who called for attacks on America ; and he also "defended another imam that, according to the United States, was trying to create a school specifically to teach children how to attack Americans." Also, Kaufman asserts, the CAIR leader has moderated an event that featured a Hamas operative who spent five years in an Israeli prison and who is currently on trial in the U.S.
According to CAIR, Boxer rescinded Elkarra’s award because she got "caught up in our nation’s rising tide of Islamophobia." However, the Americans Against Hate spokesman insists that the California legislator made a wise move in taking back the certificate her office had awarded the Sacramento CAIR official.
"This organization should not be granted any type of legitimacy whatsoever," Kaufman states. In fact, CAIR "should not be in any type of meeting with any type of law enforcement or intelligence agency or any government official — or a religious official, for that matter," he says.
"We believe this group should be persona non grata," the CAIR Watch founder adds, "and that this organization, because of its direct ties to Hamas, should be placed alongside Hamas on the State Department’s terrorism list and should be shut down."
Both Elkarra and the organization he represents exhibit behavior that is unworthy of the honor bestowed by Senator Boxer, Kaufman contends. He points out that Elkarra has defended anti-American Muslim leaders and jihadists and also notes that CAIR is currently the defendant in a lawsuit put forth by the family of FBI agent John O’Neill for the Islamic organization’s alleged role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Christians to seek converts at mosques' doorsteps
Seattle Times staff reporters
Led by a California pastor, a group of Christians will gather outside some Seattle-area mosques today in hopes of winning converts among Muslim worshippers coming to midday prayer.
They will also take their message of salvation to those attending this weekend's Arab Festival at Seattle Center and to the parking lots of shopping centers popular among people from Islamic or Arab cultures.
It's a bold — and some say audacious — gesture, coming at a time when choices over religion have grown increasingly sensitive.
But the way Pastor George Saieg sees it, many Muslims come from countries in which people lack the freedom to choose their own religion. An Arab who grew up in a Christian home in Sudan and attended Muslim schools, Saieg said Islam is a religion that offers its followers no assurance of salvation.
"In some countries, the penalty of leaving Islam is death," he said. "I want people to know that they have freedom in this country to hear about Jesus Christ."
So he feels an obligation to reach out to them through his "Ministry to Muslims" campaign, in which, he said, "Praise the Lord, 42 people came to the Lord from Michigan." He believes many in Seattle will similarly convert.
Elsewhere in the country, his message has been met with varying degrees of accommodation or anger.
Mohamad Joban, imam of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound, said he thinks Saieg is driven either by "arrogance or ignorance." He and other Muslim leaders say they aren't threatened by him and are open to talking with him.
Joban points to a growing consensus that Islam is the nation's fastest growing religion and also notes that the Quran is clear in its teachings against proselytizing.
"So who's forcing all those people to Islam?" Joban asked.
Islam and Christianity, like Judaism, trace their roots to Abraham, considered the spiritual father of all three faiths. But while Christians have historically regarded Jesus as the son of God and God incarnate, both fully human and fully divine, Muslims do not see Jesus as divine or consider him the son of God, though they do regard him as a great prophet.
Further, spreading faith — what some call proselytizing — is a tenet of Christian theology, while the Quran teaches against it. Saieg founded Arabic Christian Perspective in 2003, with a two-fold mission: convert Muslims to Christianity and "expose teachings of Islam that they're trying to hide."
He expects about 100 to 200 local Christians to attend his weekend conference at Seattle Revival Center, a nondenominational church in Newcastle, where they will be trained on what the Quran says about salvation, on Muslim objections to Christianity and on ways to respond to those objections.
Saieg did not specify which mosques he and his followers planned to visit, saying he wants worshippers open to his message and not cowed by warnings from their leaders.
Greg Daley, an associate pastor at the Revival Center, said his church joined Saieg's campaign because Saieg doesn't preach a political or right-wing message.
"Our Mission is ... to go out into the world and preach the gospel, whether it's to Muslims, Jews or anyone who doesn't believe," Daley said.
Pastor Joe Fuiten of Cedar Park Assembly of God church in Bothell, e-mailed several thousand people statewide on his Positive Christian Agenda mailing list, encouraging them to attend Saieg's conference.
He believes "Islam is seriously an issue in the world today. The ultimate answer is conversion, because radical Islam flows from Islam," he said.
But the Rev. Craig R. J. Darling of Seattle First Baptist Church said that as a Christian pastor he doesn't condone the actions of Saieg's group, saying, "God is bigger than that and with him there's room for all religions."
Saieg's followers brought his campaign to Tacoma last year, and earlier this year to Kent and Seattle, where local Muslim leaders say the group interfered with Muslims leaving a mosque after Friday prayers.
"They were harassing women for wearing scarves," said Aziz Junejo, who writes a column from the Islamic perspective for The Seattle Times Faith & Values page.
Local Muslim leaders were advising worshippers not to engage Saieg's people, to take whatever material they are given, and not to resort to physical violence but to call authorities if necessary.
Jeff Siddiqui, a local Muslim leader, said he's not convinced Saieg's methods can convert any Muslims.
"If his call to faith is that good, and Islam is that terrible, then he wouldn't have to harass us and block our paths and barrage us with haranguing," he said.
WORD FAITH INDEX
CATHOLIC CHURCH INDEX