In Northern Ireland Pastor James McConnell has been criticized for his comments on Islam. He warns his congregation that “Islam’s ideas about God, about humanity, about salvation are vastly different from the teaching of the Holy Scriptures.” That’s his opinion, although some would perceive similarities in the reverence for Moses, Abraham and Jesus. In fact as a revealed faith, Islam bears a striking similarity to Judaism and Christianity with the word of God imparted to one person.
Where he goes from fair comment to hate speak is when he starts slinging insults “Islam is heathen, Islam is Satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell”.
The Northern Ireland First Minister, Peter Robinson, quoted by Slugger O’Toole, defended the pastor’s right to “denounce false doctrine”, but was less convincing when he said “It’s been happening for generations and nobody should look at that issue.” The right to do something merely because it has been done for generations would be a rotten basis for human rights, and is no excuse for religious intolerance.
In Nathan the Wise, a play by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing,we have the following pertinent fable:
“Once upon a time there was a man who possessed a precious ring. Whoever wore the ring was endowed with the magic power to win the love of God and man. When the owner of the ring died, he left it to his favorite son; and when the son died, he left it in turn to his favorite son.” Finally the ring descended to the father of the three sons, all equally dear, and he was troubled to decide which should have it. He decided to have made two more rings, so exactly like the first that he was unable to distinguish among them, and gave one to each son. But the sons fought among themselves, each claiming to have the original.”