I wish to make a clarification statement with regards to statements made by me recently in relation to members of the Muslim faith.
I wish to emphasise that I had no intention of causing any offence or insulting any member of the Muslim community or to arouse fear or stir-up or incite hatred towards any member of the Muslim community.
I wish to apologise publicly for any distress I may have unwittingly caused on my part.
My sermon was drawing attention to how many followers of Islam have, regrettably, interpreted the doctrine of Islam as justification for violence. I have qualified my comments by reference to those who use their religion as justification for violence. As a preacher of the word of God, it is this interpretation of the doctrine of Islam which I am condemning.
I abhor violence and condemn anyone, of any faith, who uses religion to justify it.
I have devoted 60 years of my life to the service of God and preached the word of God as a Pastor to thousands of people in our community over my lifetime.
I have worked tirelessly to promote my Christian doctrine. Many faiths and denominations have attended at the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle, including members of the Muslim faith. My mission has created a community in Ethiopia which ensures over 600 children a day, including Christans and Muslims, have access to clean water and food. In addition, we fund a clinic in Kenya which provides 1200 people a month with access to medical care.
I believe in the principle of free speech and in freedom of religion.
Finally, I also will welcome any opportunity to attend at the Islamic Centre in Belfast in the near future.
Pastor James McConnell