The moderator of the Presbyterian Church has criticised remarks made by Pastor James McConnell who described Islam as “heathen” and “satanic” in a sermon. Pastor McConnell, of north Belfast’s Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle Church, made the comments last Sunday.
Speaking yesterday on Sunday Sequence this week, Rev Dr Rob Craig said the comments were unacceptable. “They are not consistent with the Gospel of Christ and the love of God,” he said. “I would be deeply offended if someone were to brand either all Presbyterians or all Christians with some extreme act by someone who claimed to do it in the name of Christ. I want to treat my neighbour as I would want to be treated myself.”
Police have said they are investigating Pastor McConnell’s comments. He told his congregation “a new evil had arisen” and “there are cells of Muslims right throughout Britain”.
However on Sunday Pastor McConnell told the News Letter he had not heard the Radio Ulster programme. When briefed on the comments made, Pastor McConnell disagreed that his remarks were not consistent with the Gospel of Christ. He said: “That is wrong because Christ called the Pharisees a generation of vipers. Christ called Herod a fox. Christ called the church leaders, why did sepulchure fill with dead bones? So is that inconsistent with the love of God? He was exposing hypocrisy.”
He added: “That’s what I was doing, exposing hypocrisy in Islam and not hypocrisy in individuals.” Earlier, in a statement, Pastor McConnell said when he made his comments: “I never intended this to be a slight on the Muslim community that live in our country.”
See also “Pastor James McConnell: Powers of darkness won’t silence me”, Belfast Telegraph, 26 May 2014
And “Barack Obama doesn’t know if he’s Muslim or Christian, claims Islam hate row cleric James McConnell”, Belfast Telegraph, 26 May 2014