Ranting is what Theocrats do

  • What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice - Albert Einstein

A right old brouhaha has mushroomed in the wake of a sermon by Belfast pastor James McConnell. The pastor’s comments on Muslims might sound shocking but they can hardly have surprised many, given the North’s history of keeping church pulpits well supplied with hellfire bible thumpers. Not too long ago the North allowed a man, who spewed more hatred than James McConnell stands accused of purveying, to serve as First Minister.

Ranting is what theocrats do and it is a bad taste society tends to put up with in order that more palatable ideas can circulate. Anybody familiar with the Christian pastors of the US evangelical circuit knows religious bile is standard fare hurled the way of all who refuse to defer to the theology of domination. The more bonkers of them picket the funerals of US soldiers because the US army permits gays into its ranks.

During the controversial sermon that has spawned the latest row McConnell said “Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell.” There being neither hell nor Satan, the comments are the figment of a deranged religious imagination. His other barbs being directed at people rather than at beliefs are much more problematic: “Now people say there are good Muslims in Britain – that may be so – but I don’t trust them.”
This type of comment shows a need to deal with an element of the past that did not seem to figure in the Haass talks. That an entire group of people are not to be trusted because they are a ‘them’ rather than an ‘us’ was emblematic of the Northern state since its inception. Catholics were so untrusted that an early Prime Minister could boast of not having one about the place. It is hardly surprising that the North's current First Minister, Peter Robinson, imbibed on such cultural mores, would not be instantly repulsed by McConnell’s utterances.  To the extent that he distanced himself from them his own comments oozed the same condescending attitude as the Terence O’Neill perspective: treat them alright and you can trust them to go to the shop for you.

On Nolan two evenings ago - which I caught by chance, being an inveterate avoider of Nolanism - the pastor, in no mood for recanting made his case in a debate with an exasperated (affectations taken into account) member of the British Islamic community. In terms of personal hatred we have heard worse from the devil hating types hurled the way of the gay community: labelled abominations in need of psychiatric treatment, unnatural deviants perched on the rung of the ladder towards bestiality.  
On the night Pastor McConnell was actually less belligerent than his fellow pastor, Colin Houston, who seemed to go off on one in his bid to shout down George Galloway. Pastor McConnell was not a bigot at all, he roared, his voice increasing in decibels in direct proportion to his face changing colour. It looked more red than orange but we are attuned to the shading. Others might just have seen no difference. Pastor McConnell was a man of god, we learned. Which many bigots are so as a plausible defence strategy it didn’t work that well. Galloway’s dismissal of Houston as ‘Mr Bigot’ probably lodged in more sensible minds than anything Roaring Red Face had to say.
There have been calls to silence James McConnell and have the PSNI pursue him for hate crime. This would be self-defeating for freedom of expression, as well as self-serving for the censors, always on the lookout for a voice to smother. It is better that we all know the pastor’s jaundiced views, that they are drawn out into the open, where there is no secretive theological cover for them, and where they can be confronted with remorseless logic rather than cries of 'amen.' We are adult enough to listen to the views of the pastor without being persuaded of their merits, the opposite in fact: the more we hear them the more we resile from them.  We don’t need some thought cop playing nanny, filtering what we hear. 
The notion that the PSNI might go after him for having an obnoxious opinion is censorship by law enforcement. Recent history has shown that it does not take too much to set the PSNI off in pursuit of people expressing dissenting, weird or off the wall commentary. Never concede to law enforcement the right to tell society what to think or very soon it will find itself accused of blasphemy against the cops.  McConnell expressed contempt for Muslims rather than stirred up hatred against them. As vile and racist as that is there is a distinction that has gone largely unnoticed in the clamour to silence him. He did not label Muslims 'legitimate targets' which would lend sufficient menace to his comments to take them over the line from obnoxious rants to hate crime.  
Prosecuting James McConnell for his views would be as draconian as it would be disastrous.  He should not be in the dock of some courtroom but, to borrow from Mencken, in his 'rightful spot in the dunce's chair.'


  1. How is it an ‘obnoxious opinion’? Do you think of a slave owner that married a 6 year old (and consummated the marriage at 9) , that tortured men to death for gold,the was possessed by the Devil (in his own belief), that beheaded 400-600 Jews is the best example of morality for all for to follow? The reason for the furore is two fold : people know nothing of Islam, and conflation of ideology with race.

  2. people know nothing of Islam

    I do. It's a load of balls. Like all religions. I've no time for them. I've said a few times here, I could take anyone to the leafy suburbs of Paris and you can watch the local taliban get stoned on pot, drunk and in between bang 20euro hookers..Then on a Friday they give it loads on their knees to who ever. Christians do the same. They live a week of total decadance and they go into a box and tell all to a priest whos probably whacking himself off listening to your sins..Then we have our firends the Jews who are cocksuckers..

    If their is a heaven and you go through life doing more good than bad, chances are God will say, "I've let bigger wankers than 'you' in..Go ahead"..

  3. Roaring red face. Lol. I thought it made for excellent TV viewing, I would like to see much more of it, to expose these folk, that are simply bigots, racist and sectarian that hide under the cloak of organised religion. Self proclaimed "men of god". Faith, guilt and fear are big sellers here as one of the main social conditioning tools to keep the tribal flock in order and control.

    For all religions to exist they depend on sectarianism of one shape or another. Fact.

    These fundamentalist religions of all creeds and congregations need to point the long finger of hate, blame or vilification at people who do not prescribe to their own perception and manipulation of organised faith and religion.

    All religions in the world are guilty and stand accused, history from what ever angle or source proves this as factual, time and
    time again.

    I cannot take these people seriously, as I have experienced people from numerous religions, such as Islam, Catholic, Protestant and Jew to be highly patronizing, pompous and sanctimonious when I simply stated on numerous occasions my opinion in a non threatening way throughout the years that you do not need any religious code or so called faith to be a reasonably ethical and moralistic person in society.

    Religion is simply as confidence trick, perhaps the greatest in living history.

    It is going to get to the stage that everything you say, to protect your so called "free speech" in this country, you will have to insert the words "In my own opinion" beforehand. Tostand a reasonable chance of escaping an appearance in court.

    This is where we are going. I would say with confidence Pastors like your man, where the same sort of people who were dishing out the hate about catholics in the north not that long ago, and sure we all know that the oul Priests are hardly without sin too.

    “Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool.”

    ― Mark Twain

    Now, that was only my opinion and within the realms of free speech I am told, for the time being anyway.

  4. KINCORA.LOL. Theres a few beasts praying in the taberneckle.

  5. Haha Frankie, I remember you offering this tour before. I agree some awful things are done by people who claim faith, but you haven’t mentioned doctrine in terms of Islam. I think what differentiates Islam from the others , is that barbarity and cruelty are central to its theology. Of course Christians will pervert their faith to justify existing prejudice, but it’s just that, a perversion. Is there an equivalent of Christ torturing someone to find out where the village gold is buried? Its easier for most people just to say : All religions are evil.

  6. Daithi,
    I wouldn't go as far as to say all religions are evil. There isn't difference between Islamic barbarity and Christian or Jewish barbrity. Didn't George & Tony pray to God before they went to war an slaughtered how many..?

    This fella Christ, some call him Jesus. He was a terrorist. Today he'd be called a dissident. All his firends had very dodgy back grounds. Peter was called 'The Rock' becuase he was a hard man. Nothing else. Problem with the bible is so much has been lost in translation.

    The Jewish religion isn't great either. They use some, if not all the tourture routines Ian Cobain exposed that the Britsh use as their bench mark. You'd think they'd show Palestinians compassion after what the Jewish people went through in WW2..

    The Indian sub continent religions have a lot to answer for too. Who gang rapes school girls and hangs them, then the police do nothing because they (the two girls) are a lower caste!!! Fcuk that. Anybody of guilty of raping kids, bread and water for 30yrs and when their time is up, shot at dawn. No mercy shown.

    What I have pondered over while having a splif and looking at the moon was when Peter Robinson said about he wouldn't trust muslims who engaged in terrorism, was that a back hand slap ro Martin McGuinness, by all reports they don't get on.

    But censoring bigots..nahhh, expose them, then poke fun at them.

  7. frankie, my gaze at the moon revealed that all in life is barbarity, you are either the spectator or the crucified. Quite a Buddist sentiment I imagine? But dont get me started on themuns!

  8. life is barbarity, you are the spectator or the crucified.

    I can't buy into that line of thought. Thinking like that you'd be better of bending over and contasntly taking one for the team. And that's too gay to even consider. If someone wants to fcuk me they better ask for permission first and second, make sure it's lubed.

    God..But Frank Zappa hit the nail on the head about religion

  9. The _core_ message of all religions is the same, if only they'd listen to it. And it was best summed up by the two prophets, St Bill S. Preston and St Ted 'Theodore' Logan:

    'Be excellent to one another'

    (Well, not quite all religions, but hey.)

    But censoring bigots..nahhh, expose them, then poke fun at them.

    Dead on, Frankie, I endorse this opinion. Same as 'broadcasting ban for the Shinners' back in the day. Let them say what they want, just don't expect me to buy the guff. Snake oil is cheap these days, I hear.

    Can't say I miss fire-and-brimestone corner street preachers. I'll give the English one thing, at least that embarrasses them and I don't see them out in town on a Saturday morning.

  10. Stay Taoist, without wanting to labour the point, there are still fire and brimstone preachers on the streets of England, its just they don’t have dog collars on,they have beards and sandals, this allows them to harangue passing women for being uncovered and threaten gays with death. The reason no one challenges them is exactly the reason there is furore over this pastors comments : criticism of certain religions = racism.

  11. Daithi: I guess my serene Cantabrigian lifestyle means it is always happening somewhere else. But I know what you mean.

    Yes, the whole conflation of criticism with racism/sexism/anyism is irritating, further more the smug Left self-censorship (I was reading an article on Conrad recently, and while it was discussing his...colonial attitudes, they still made no mention of...a certain book) doesn't help.

    I never understood the world.

  12. Stray Taoism , I think if you exit most tube stations in East of Whitechapel there will be a trusty table outside containing the most intolerant material imaginable. I don’t disapprove of their right to do it, yet my right to criticise aspects of their faith is denied. Denied in a way that it wouldn’t be if it was Scientology in question, because, stupidly, the Left have conflated Islam with race and that’s all anyone hears. And so you get socialists marching in favour of a faith, who in jurisprudence matters view female perspectives as worth half as much as a male. Its so fucked up, my heads gonna explode.

  13. DaithiD and Frankie,
    You're response to religions is tantamount to the polaristaion of McConnell's.....one extreme view reflected by an opposite.....Stalin wasn't religious.....I think it comes down not to how susceptible people are but why? Why do they feel that they need to shout, I'm better than you...it happens in all walks of life including the most obvious being sport...quite odd.

  14. Naill,
    I've no time for any religion. Personally I think they are a waste of peoples time and energy. If anyone wants to practise a cult or other be my guest but keep it away from my door step. I don't think all priests are child abusers neither do I believe all Inmans teach their flock how to become a suicide bombers etc.. I've just better things to do with my time at weekends and going to a Mosque, Synagogue or Chapel isn't high on my list.

  15. Niall, can you explain to me how objecting to relegation of women to second class citizens is polarising? And objecting to genocide is extreme? Have you actually read about Islam, or are you say a lapsed Catholic/ see Islam has similar prophets like Abraham/assume it must basically be the same bullshit as Catholicism/no further investigation needed? I don't blame most people who choose not to read up on it, why would they if they are sure they are atheists anyway? Those guys that cut the head off the soldier in London were quoting the relevant passages where their Prophet allowed it, yet most people insist they are doing things not scripturally mandated.I don't know why.