Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. — First Amendment, Constitution of the united States of America.
Despite this tenet of the Bill of Rights guaranteeing citizens of this nation the God-given rights identified, this nation sees frequently those groups who would seek, by any means necessary, to limit those rights to others who oppose their moral depravity, and speak out against it. Citizens see this when it comes to Islam, sodomy, so called same-sex “marriage,” abortion, illegal alien invasion, and a host of other issues identified as deserving of “political correctness” in order to keep truth at bay. Some like to assign label of “hate speech” to freedom of speech in order to silence others, indicating that US laws protect one sect of people over another. For now, US law applies equally to all, technically; but, as we are witnessing, not always literally.
In Northern Ireland, free speech depends on the media used to convey that speech, as one evangelical pastor is discovering. Pastor James McConnell, 78, of Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is under fire and slated for prosecution under the Communications Act of 2003 for his deliverance of a speech, broadcast over the internet, where he called Islam “satanic” and its doctrine “spawned in hell.” McConnell’s sermon, delivered by internet stream in 2014, addressed Islam in a way that offended someone enough to file a complaint with the Public Prosecution Service. Here is a video portion of the sermon McConnell preached.
McConnell spoke the truth about Islam in his sermon. However, The Public Prosecution Service issued McConnell an “informed warning,” “which is not a conviction, though it stays on the person’s criminal record for the period of one year.” Initially, McConnell relented and apologized for his comments after “public outcry”; however, the police investigated him for a potential hate crime, resulting in the warning. McConnell refused the warning even though the acceptance would have meant avoiding prosecution.
A Public Prosecution Service spokesperson stated McConnell violated the Communications Act of 2003 by “sending, or causing to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive.” Since McConnell refused the warning, the matter proceeds by way of “summary prosecution in the magistrates court.”
Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, defended McConnell initially; but quickly backpedaled under pressure before McConnell’s apology.
According to the Guardian, McConnell stepped down as pastor of Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle, a church he founded, handing off the leadership to deputy pastor David Purse. McConnell indicated he had been contemplating retirement for 18months and this move had nothing to do with his comments on Islam.
Multiple media carried McConnell’s response to the PPS’s decision to charge him.
McConnell stated, “I’m not taking it lying down. I am not going to be gagged. The police tried to shut me up and tell me what to preach. It’s ridiculous. I believe in freedom of speech. I’m going to keep on preaching the gospel.”
“I have nothing against Muslims, I have never hated Muslims, I have never hated anyone. But I am against what Muslims believe. They have a right to say what they believe and I have a right to say what I believe.”
Pastor McConnell, accused of Islamophobia, receives a “warning” for his sermon broadcast over the internet then “summary prosecution” for refusing to accept the warning while practitioners of Islam, in the same nation, call for beheadings of non-believers, issue death threats to those who speak the truth about Islam, and incite violence against peaceful individuals over the very same media. One particular man comes to mind — Anjem Choudary. Surely, having a You Tube channel and Twitter account espousing “offensive messages” constitutes the same offense the PPS has accused Pastor McConnell.
McConnell has the right of free speech as long as that speech is not “broadcast” over public electronic communications networks. He can preach his message all day long only to his congregation. Once that message broadcasts over the internet, it becomes subject to the communications laws. Welcome to a territory linked to the home of the Magna Carta.
While God-given rights are inherent to everyone, not all governments recognize these rights, which subject citizens to prosecution for the exercise of those rights under some pretended law of man. The establishment of the recognition of God-given individual rights coupled with our governmental structure (self-governing) earned the united States the title of “exceptional.” However, our “exceptionalism” stands to erode quickly if we as a people shirk in intimidation from exercising those rights and bow to those who stand to eradicate them.
The US witnesses the prosecution under “discrimination laws” of Christians, who refuse to violate their religious beliefs by participating in activities that are not condoned by their faith. Yes, baking a cake and providing flowers for sodomy “marriage” is participating. No individual is “guaranteed” the services of another, regardless. And, no individual is “guaranteed” the right of the talents of another. Unfortunately, the government believes they are when it comes to those who are Christians. Doesn’t sound like you can “freely exercise” your religion if you are a Christian, does it?
The people of this nation witnessed earlier this year the government’s take-over of the internet under some arbitrary rule by an unconstitutional agency using some request or study requested by Congress in 1996. More than likely, this administration “requested” government control over the internet under the guise of classifying it a public utility for censorship purposes. The government, aka Obama, under “executive fiat,” has taken control of much of the infrastructure of this nation. Granted, other presidents exerted through executive fiat some control over the same, but not to this extent. When will this nation begin prosecution of speech because it is “offensive” to whomever decide certain speech is offensive? It may be closer than we think if the political correctness expands and this government or its unconstitutional agencies exert full control of the internet. They bought the majority of TV broadcasts, the newspaper media and radio waves.
Right now, this nation sits at the precipice of a slippery slope. Freedom exists as long as we exercise it and stand in unison against vocal “special interest” groups. Once we back down in intimidation or silenced by “outcries,” we voluntarily relinquish our right.
Pray for Pastor McConnell and support his God-given right to freedom of speech. He speaks the truth and been labeled a criminal for it. The “communication” laws of his nation are vile and set to punish anyone who says anything somebody finds offensive. More than likely, those laws exist to pacify Islamists who hate the truth told about their “offensive” totalitarian system.
Suzanne Hamner (pen name) is a registered nurse, grandmother of 4, and a political independent residing in the state of Georgia, who is trying to mobilize the Christian community in her area to stand up and speak out against tyrannical government, invasion by totalitarian political systems masquerading as religion and get back to the basics of education.
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