Local Minister Spreads Hate On Internet

BEREA, Ohio - A local pastor's remarks about Islam are being called inflammatory, divisive and totally inaccurate.

The Rev. Kenneth Spink serves as pastor of the Berea Baptist Church in Berea. The Investigator, Tom Meyer, learned of the pastor's controversial remarks on the church's Web site. Spink makes a series of statements that have shocked local Islamic leaders and Muslim scholars.

Among other things, Spink says "the God of Islam is Satan who promotes violence, immorality and death." Spink describes Islam as a "false cult whose blinded followers are condemned by God. Their's is a God of death and hatred. The God that they pray to is the devil."

The minister's statements come at a time when elected leaders, including President Bush, have called for tolerance and mutual respect in the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedies. Bush has said that Islam means peace, and that the terrorists don't represent peace.

Spink says that he disagrees with Bush, and feels that he's trying to be politically correct.

Islamic leaders and Muslim scholars say that Spink is promoting violence, hatred and extremism.

Dr. James Royster, a religious studies professor at Cleveland State University, called Spink's statements "unbelievable." He said that he's "amazed that anyone could be so blinded." He went on to say that Spink "knows nothing of Islam."

Spink also serves as the public address announcer for boys basketball games at Berea High School. The school principal felt the minister's remarks were a non-issue with the school since Spink is a parent volunteer who doesn't work directly with the school.