Thinking Anglicans

Known by Name

The power of naming needs no rehearsal.

As we celebrate the naming of Jesus, we encounter again the implications of a God who enters into the realities of human life. The day remembers that this Jewish child, like every other, would have his entrance into the world and into a family ritually marked. To name a child is to take part in one of the near-universal human experiences: with his or her naming a baby is recognised as an individual, a unique person with both present existence and potential future. A different kind of relationship is established from that with an unborn or even newly-born child: now we can identify the child as him or her self, not purely as the son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, of someone else, and using the name we can address him or her directly. Not surprising, then, that among those disconnected from religious practice, naming ceremonies are gaining popularity.

Not surprising, either, that charity appeals, of which there are (rightly) so many at this time of year, recognise that we struggle to connect to the generic, to ‘babies’, ‘children’, ‘the homeless’. Each one, whether for London’s rough sleepers, the young victims of abuse in the country at large, those who suffer in war, or the hungry of the world’s struggling nations, seems to begin with a name: ‘let me tell you about …’ says the well-known voice fronting the appeal. And a particular, poignant, story unfolds. We seem to need that particularity to engage our sympathies; in the Christian tradition, believing ourselves known by name, we have all the more reason to connect in this way to the man, woman, or child in need, believing them also to be known to God.

Known to God. The phrase will have a distinctive resonance in this year, 2014, as governments and people mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. ‘Known unto God’ are the words inscribed, at the suggestion of Rudyard Kipling, on the graves of the thousands of soldiers who remained unidentified on the battlefields. These were men whose names, given at the beginning of their lives, were lost at the end in the bloody business of war.

The words used on those graves speak of a trust in God’s care for each one as precious. They remain a challenge to our tribalism and localism, a challenge to hold together our own instinctive connection to the known and named individual with a wider sympathy, a wider compassion. If we are given the name of a hungry child, we need to make the link to current concerns over food security for the world – and then think through how we feed ourselves and those dear, familiar, named ones who share our tables. Just as, in the birth and naming of a child 2000 years ago, we see both the particular and the universal, so in our words, our prayers, our actions we are called to respond both to the one whose name we know and the multitude beyond, known and loved by God.

Canon Jane Freeman is Team Rector of Wickford and Runwell in the diocese of Chelmsford


Anti-homosexuality legislation in Nigeria and Uganda

Updated Monday lunchtime

This roundup from Religion Dispatches summarises the situation:

Nigeria and Uganda: Harsh Anti-Gay Legislation Passes

Harsh anti-gay laws that had been pending for years in both Nigeria and Uganda received legislative approval.

The Nigerian bill is called the Anti Same-Sex Marriage bill, but it does much more than ban and punish same-sex marriage with 14 years in prison. It calls for up to 10 years jail time for those who “aid and abet” same-sex marriages and for public displays of affection as well as public or private advocacy – even the creation of social clubs. The fate of the “Jail the Gays” law now rests with President Goodluck Jonathan. Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is divided between a mostly Muslim north and largely Christian south, and has dealt this year sectarian violence. According to a Daily Trust story on the bill’s passage, “Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan (APC, Yobe) said Nigeria is a religious country and the two major religions do not accept same sex marriage.” Nigerian student Udoka Okafor has published an open letter to the president, which invokes Nelson Mandela as an example for the country to follow.

In Uganda, where some U.S. religious conservatives have actively backed anti-gay forces there, parliament passed anti-gay legislation that had been pending for years. Once known as the “kill the gays bill,” the legislation as passed did not include the death penalty but makes homosexuality punishable by life in prison. The bill was pushed through even though Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi protested the lack of a quorum.

Passage was celebrated by Martin Ssempa, an outspoken anti-gay pastor who is allied with conservative evangelicals in the U.S., and it was applauded by the Anglican Church in Uganda. On Christmas, Bishop Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira praised the legislation and urged parliament to pass a ban on abortion as well.

Gay Star News reported on Dec 26 that in response to demand from Apostle Joseph Serwadda, leader of Pentecostal churches in the country, the he sign the bill, president Museveni said he would review it carefully before deciding whether to sign it. Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin explains that under the Ugandan constitution, the president does not have the power to veto the bill but can return it to Parliament twice, at which point it would need a two-thirds majority to become law.

Human Rights Watch released a video warning of violence against LGBT people and urged the president not to sign the bill. The White House reiterated its opposition to the bill, and a Christmas Eve statement from Jen Psaki, spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, read:

We are deeply concerned by the Ugandan Parliament’s passage of anti-homosexuality legislation. As Americans, we believe that people everywhere deserve to live in freedom and equality – and that no one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or whom they love. We join those in Uganda and around the world who appeal for respect for the human rights of LGBT persons and of all persons.

The European Union and the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office also released statements. Several news reports noticed the challenge facing western governments whose pro-equality advocacy is depicted as neo-colonial interference.

The UK Foreign Office statement about Uganda is here. There appears, at the time of writing, to be no corresponding statement about Nigeria.

There is a press briefing from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights here.

More detail on the Nigerian bill is in this Buzzfeed report from Lester Feder.

See also this report from Human Rights Watch.

Comments by Changing Attitude are included at the end of this article.


Extensive comment by Changing Attitude is now published in Stark choices face the Primates and Bishops of the Anglican Communion in 2014.



Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian about The Church of England’s unglamorous, local future.
This article prompted these letters to the editor.

A N Wilson writs in The Telegraph that It’s the Gospel truth – so take it or leave it.

Ken Howard writes for Paradoxical Thoughts about Non-Proselytizing Evangelism: Returning To The Roots Of Anglican-Episcopal Tradition and the Incarnational Heart Of Christianity. [originally published in the e-magazine Witness6.7]

Malcolm Brown, the Director of the CofE’s Mission and Public Affairs Division, writes in The Observer that Without morality, the market economy will destroy itself.

Giles Fraser asks in The Guardian: Can you be too religious?

Peter Ormerod writes in The Guardian that Children’s nativity plays could have been invented by Satan.


More on Pilling from Uganda and elsewhere

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda has criticised the Pilling report in his Christmas Message:

…We believe the Bible is the authoritative Word of God and trustworthy to tell us the Truth. Unfortunately, some in the Anglican Communion members no longer believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God. That’s why I and other Archbishops from the Global South, Sydney, and the Anglican Church in North America organized the second Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in October in Nairobi. We were altogether 1358 delegates worldwide. These included 169 delegates from Uganda. We are so determined to refuse anything that contradicts the Biblical authority without fear or compromise. I appeal to all Ugandans to join us in this struggle to protect our God given rights.

We are very concerned that our mother Church of England is moving in a very dangerous direction. They are following the path the Americans in the Episcopal Church took that caused us to break communion with them ten years ago.

The Church of England is now recommending that same-sex relationships be blessed in the church. Even though they are our mother, I want you to know that we cannot and we will not go in that direction. We will resist them and, with our other GAFCON brothers and sisters, will stand with those in the Church of England who continue to uphold the Bible as the Word of God and promote Biblical faith and morality…

There is a series of articles on the Pilling report on the Oak Hill Blog which can be accessed from this page.

Forward in Faith North America has issued this Statement on the Pilling Report.


Christmas sermons

Archbishop of Canterbury

Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
Archbishop of Dublin

Bishop of Bradford
Bishop of Chelmsford
Bishop of Ely
Bishop of Gloucester
Bishop of Lincoln
Bishop of Norwich
Bishop of Oxford
Bishop of Norwich
Bishop of Sheffield

Bishop of Down and Dromore

Jeremy Fletcher, Vicar of Beverley
John Hall, Dean of Westminster
Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of Glasgow


Anglican bishops support Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Updated Friday evening

Jim Burroway reports in Box Turtle Bulletin:

Uganda’s Daily Monitor provides a round-up of religious leaders Christmas messages. The draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which was hurriedly passed by Parliament last Friday, received special mention by these three Anglican bishops:

“In Uganda, there are so many injustices like child sacrifice, domestic violence, drug abuse which are now a big issue in our schools… I want to thank Parliament for passing the Anti-homosexuality Bill. I want the world to understand what we are saying,” the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev Stanley Ntagali, said.

…“Can you imagine your son brings another man at home for introduction?… The church preaches forgiveness, reconciliation and transformation. I do not want people to look at us and say the church is against the homosexuals. We love everybody. The homosexuals, and lesbians are all children of God but we want them to repent and have eternal life,” Archbishop Ntagali said.

At St Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe, Bishop Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira commended MPs for passing the anti-gays Bill but asked them to object the proposed law to legalise abortion describing it as murder.

The Bishop of Mbale, the Rt Rev Patrick Gidudu, asked Ugandans and political leaders who are against the Bill to seek God, repent and renew fellowship to save the country from God’s wrath…


Episcopal Cafe has a link to video reportage of Bishop Luwalira, here.

And there is this CNN report Gay and afraid in Uganda which also has episcopal input.


The ox and ass and camel

I’ve been thinking a lot about camels recently, inspired by my trip across part of Manchester diocese on one last week. The experience taught me that, if nothing else, by the time they reached Bethlehem the Magi would have had sore bottoms. Perhaps my recent ride was why, sat in the cathedral on Sunday night for the last pre Christmas Carol Service in the diary, and hearing again Harold Darke’s evocative setting of Christina Rossetti’s words, In the Bleak Midwinter, one line sprang out: ‘The ox and ass and camel, which adore’.

The nativity story is composed around a series of journeys: Mary and Joseph are called from Nazareth; the shepherds are sent down from the hills; the wise men travel from a far land in the east. But some of the figures in the crib scene have made no journey at all. The animals are simply at home, at the end of whatever labours they had been put to that day, in their stable. And Christ is born in their midst.

Perhaps it helps that I’m a Franciscan, but I don’t hear Rosetti’s words as mere Victorian sentimentality. I believe in the Christ who is ‘Saviour of the World’; his mission is not just to pluck human brands from the flames, but to bring the whole created order to its joyful destiny. The biblical account may not specifically mention whether other creatures were there, but the presence of the manger is a pretty convincing clue. It’s in their home that the Son of God chooses to be born. They are the ones who are so blessed that they have no journey required of them before they meet the Saviour. They are ready and prepared to adore him just as they are.

The Anglican Five Marks of Mission call us explicitly to combat injustice and to guard God’s creation. Whether or not we go as far as St Francis, who would gently remove worms from the path for their safety, the animals among whom Jesus was born serve as symbolic reminders of those imperatives. Reminders too that the world we share with them, whilst marked and marred by sin, is in no state of utter depravity. Rather it remains glorious in the richness of its God-willed diversity, most of all whenever it offers that glory back to him in adoration.

And the animals remind us that sometimes no outward journey is necessary. Christ is here, in our midst, even as we are peaceably at home or engaged in routine. The task is to notice, to let our eyes be no longer blinded by our preoccupations and preconceptions, and to respond. Can we be, as we tuck into Christmas dinner, open presents or anxiously await the start of the TV Christmas special we’re so looking forward to, at least as aware of the divine in our surroundings as Rosetti suggests the creatures in the crib scene were?

Then ox, and ass, and camel, and we, might adore.

David Walker is the Bishop of Manchester


Jamaica conference and Christian Concern: an update

Updated Christmas Eve

The silence of Christian Concern was broken briefly when, for a short time, a copy of an article supporting Andrea Minichiello Williams appeared there, with the title Questioning a bishop’s duty to “uphold biblical truth and refute doctrinal error” but it was taken down very quickly. But not quickly enough.

The article, originally titled Sad Day for Church of England when Changing Attitude Drives Episcopal Oversight, was written by the Reverend Julian Mann, Vicar of the Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, a parish in the Diocese of Sheffield, and had originally appeared here, and has also been reproduced here.

Richard Bartholomew has updated his earlier article with this new one: Christian Concern’s Jamaica Anti-Gay Controversy Grows.

He writes:

…Certainly, I too thought the comments attributed to Williams were surprisingly virulent, which was why I maintained some caution when I quoted Buzzfeed myself. But if anything was amiss, why hasn’t Williams sought to set the record straight? I see no reason why Feder needs to defend his journalism when his subject has made no complaint of inaccuracy…

…This is the only response that Christian Concern has made on the matter, and it gives no indication that “the stand taken” by Williams has been misrepresented by Buzzfeed or the Independent. And there’s no explanation for why the article has now been removed.


Christian Concern has published this video which contains Andrea Williams Christmas message. There are some generalised indirect references to recent events in this.


Opinion for the solstice

Christopher Howse writes in The Telegraph that there is Nothing pagan in today’s sunshine.

Lizzie Lowrie writes Waiting for What?

Giles Fraser writes in The Guardian that The Bethlehem story takes us deeper into what it means to be human.

The Archbishop of Canterbury preached this sermon at the Metropolitan Police Carol Service earlier this week.

Dom Joly, writing in The Independent, discovers that Church holds no horror for me now.

Gerald Butt of the Church Times has interviewed the Archbishop of Canterbury about Western inactivity in the face of regional conflict: Shepherd watches his flocks in Middle East.

Andreas Whittam Smith writes in The Independent that The Anglican and Catholic Churches have finally realised they must change to survive. But is it too late?

1 Comment

The Shepherds’ Fields

The Shepherds’ Fields, outside the ancient heart of the town to which Mary and Joseph came to be registered, were in their day home to people living an insecure nomadic life on the edge of an inhospitable desert. In two millennia, the same thing might be said. Though the area is now built up, it is strangely quiet. Jerusalem can be seen, just five miles away, but it is inaccessible to most Palestinians. They are shut in behind ‘security’ walls which enforce the Israeli government’s apartheid laws. At dawn there is no great bustle of people going to work because for most there is no work. The great city which was the source of employment for most people is closed.

Today Bethlehem is still a place of refugee camps to which people fled in 1948. They have never been granted proper human rights and they have not been allowed to return to their homes. Generations of Palestinians have grown up here, with little work, poor education, and the supervision of impotent UN monitors.

But look more closely at the Shepherd’s Fields, and there is worse. The YMCA has a hostel whose mission is to rehabilitate boys and men who have been systematically tortured in Israeli prisons. They used to bear the marks of torture, but their captors, including the infamous G4S organisation, now resort to methods which leave no physical evidence on the body, but shatter the minds of the victims. They have often suffered what is known as ‘shaken baby syndrome’, and the shattered fragments of their minds have to be rebuilt. Innovative therapies have been developed here and at other specialist places in Palestine, to try to mend the damage.

The modern day successors of the shepherds have nowhere to pasture their flocks. Many have been forcibly ‘settled’ by the Israeli government, only to have their villages taken over time and again when Jewish settlers move in. The water for the flocks which once issued from natural springs has dried up, as Israel digs deep wells to syphon off the water close to the surface. It is then freely available to Jews, but rationed for non-Jews. What was once a free resource for the flocks must now be bought by the tanker load, and is often stolen back by Israeli authorities in order to force the herders and their animals to move from areas that the Israelis want for themselves.

Is there no saviour for these people? As the world acknowledges a former terrorist and jailbird who brought an end to apartheid in South Africa, can we recognise that the most fitting tribute to his life would be to end apartheid everywhere? And can we then bite the bullet, in the knowledge that only sanctions and divestment, which brought justice to South Africa, will bring an end to the apartheid in the Holy Land.

Tom Ambrose lives in Cambridge


More coverage of the Jamaica conference story

Several British newspapers have picked up the story relating to Andrea Minichiello Williams:

Meanwhile, Lester Feder at Buzzfeed has published another article about Jamaica which gives some context to the earlier report: Why Some LGBT Youths In Jamaica Are Forced To Call A Sewer Home.


The Times also has a report, Tom Daley was turned gay by death of his father, claims leading evangelical Christian, but as usual it only available to paid subscribers.


Homophobia in the Church of England

Changing Attitude has published two articles relating to this topic:

How the Anglican Communion’s authoritative teaching about same-sex attraction is ignored

Thirty-five Primates of the Anglican Communion met at the Dromantine Retreat Centre in Newry, Northern Ireland, from 20 to 25 February 2005. Section 6 of The Dromantine Communique issued at the end of the meeting concluded with these two sentences:

“We also wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of the moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people. The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship (vii).”

Any action or language which leads to the victimisation or diminishment of people who love others of the same sex is anathema to the Primates of the Anglican Communion. This is the policy of the Anglican Communion and the reason why Andrea Minichiello Williams speech in Jamaica has been so strongly criticised, why Anglican Mainstream’s stance and editorial policy is criticised, and why Primates and bishops in Uganda and Nigeria who support the anti-gay bills and all anti-gay rhetoric is criticised by Changing Attitude…

Is Anglican Mainstream homophobic? A gay evangelical perspective

A gay evangelical, a supporter of Changing Attitude, has written an extended commentary on two articles posted on the Anglican Mainstream web site. Until recently, he and his partner were very committed and active members of a congregation rejuvenated following an HTB plant. To protect both them and the congregation, we are posting this anonymously. The couple is well known to us. The supporter has been motivated by the nature of many posts on the AM website which are, to a gay Christian, deeply offensive.

Anglican Mainstream has a deliberate policy of publishing ‘shocking and offensive’ articles that relate to homophobia – and there is a direct link between articles they publish or link to and support for prejudice against LGB&T people in other parts of the Communion and attempts to legislate against LGB&T people that would result in gay people being jailed for long periods…

Do read both articles in full.


another round-up of comment on the Pilling report

Andrew Symes of Anglican Mainstream has written for the American Anglican Council: Pilling: What are the Bishops thinking? (scroll down to read item).

In this he quotes at length anonymously, and not approvingly, from letters written by two diocesan bishops about the Pilling report. Of one letter he comments:

…All attitudes to Scripture and methods of interpretation are provisional; all are valid. No-one is a heretic. The church is inclusive of all beliefs. And the model we have used for pushing through the women Bishops legislation without ensuring that opponents are happy with adequate safeguards – could that be the same one about to be used for pushing through the acceptance of same sex relationships in church?

And of the other letter, Symes says:

…But it is alarming that a Bishop can so overtly support the blessing of gay relationships without any concern that this may be violating the Church’s historic understanding and teaching, and without any sensitivity towards his conservative clergy correspondent…

Do read the whole thing, to see what the bishops in question actually wrote.

My own article introducing the Pilling report to readers of The Tablet was published back on 5 December (subscribers only). The full text is reproduced below the fold. The following week a very interesting letter to the editor was published, and this is also reproduced below, with the agreement of its author and of the Tablet editor.

Crisis in the meaning of sexuality 12 December 2013

While Simon Sarmiento (“Let’s talk about sex”, 7 December) attempts a positive appraisal of the Pilling Report on human sexuality, what is disappointing for many is the inability to see a way through the divisive split between heterosexuality and homo­sexuality. For me the flawed nature of the document goes much deeper. While the ­document clarifies several contemporary influences – both psychological and sociological – creating serious sexual deviations in our time, there is total lack of any historical contextualisation. Throughout the modern world, including the monotheistic religions, we assume unquestioningly Aristotle’s psycho­sexual legacy. This is at the root of many contemporary sexually related problems.

For Aristotle, human sexuality was a biological propensity, primarily a male endowment, with the woman serving as a mere biological organism for fertilisation by the male seed. This led to the view that the primary purpose of sex was human ­procreation. As many Catholics will know, this became the sole purpose of Christian marriage at the Council of Trent (in the sixteenth century) and remained so until 1962.

That foundational biological reductionism still haunts the understanding of human sexuality today. Until that foundational deviation is addressed, and a fresh articulation of human sexuality outlined – with an accompanying new sexual ethic – we cannot hope to address in a coherent way the several other specific issues that loom large in our time. The central crisis is not about same- sex marriage or homosexuality. It is about the very meaning of human sexuality itself.

(Fr) Diarmuid O’Murchu, St Albans, Hertfordshire

And finally, as they say, there is this apocalyptic view of the matter: Lament from London: a dying church in England
The Church of England may be doomed, British commentator “Pageantmaster” writes, as it begins debate over the Pilling Report. Hampered by several generations of poor leadership, with bishops chosen for their ability to go along and get along, the Church of England may well surrender the fight in the battle with post-modern culture.



Bishop of Chichester comments on homophobic remarks

The Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, has made the following response to the previously published remarks of one of that diocese’s elected lay representatives to the General Synod:

The comments by Andrea Minichiello Williams about the decriminalisation of same sex intercourse in Jamaica have no sanction in the Church of England or the diocese of Chichester. Insofar as such comments incite homophobia, they should be rejected as offensive and unacceptable.

The Christian Church is widely perceived as homophobic and intolerant of those for whom same sex attraction is the foundation of their emotional lives. It is urgent, therefore, that Christians find legitimate ways to affirm and demonstrate the conviction that the glory of God is innate in every human being, and the mercy of God embraces each of us indiscriminately.

This response is contained within a press release issued by Changing Attitude Sussex, the full text of which is copied below the fold.



February 2014 General Synod

General Synod will meet in London from 10 to 12 February 2014. The outline agenda was issued today, and is copied below.

One item requires some explanation – the proposal to suspend Standing Order 90(b)(iiii). This appears to be a misprint for 90(b)(iii), which is the standing order requiring dioceses to be given at least six months to respond to a reference of Article 8 business (such as the legislation on Women in the Episcopate). If Synod agrees to suspend this standing order the reference to dioceses can be completed before the July 2014 meeting of Synod, thereby allowing final approval of the legislation to be taken then.

The texts of the private member’s motions and the diocesan synod motions are online.



Monday 10 February

2 pm – 7.00 pm

2.00 pm Worship
Introductions, welcomes, progress of legislation
Report by the Business Committee
Dates of groups of sessions in 2016-2018
Presentation by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group
Gender-Based Violence: Report by the Mission and Public Affairs Council

Not later than 5.30 pm Questions

Tuesday 11 February

9.15 am – 1.00 pm
9.15 am Holy Communion
10.45 am Women in the Episcopate: Consideration of the House of Bishops Declaration and draft disputes resolution procedure regulations

Legislative Business
Women in the Episcopate: Revision Stage for the draft Measure and Amending Canon

2.30 pm – 7.15 pm
2.30 pm Women in the Episcopate: Continuation of Revision Stage for the draft Measure and Amending Canon

Preliminary consideration of the draft Act of Synod rescinding the 1993 Act of Synod

Motion to suspend SO 90(b)(iiii)

Legislative Business
Church of England (Naming of Dioceses) Measure
Church of England (Pensions) Amendment Measure
Draft Parochial Fees and Scheduled Matters Amending Order
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) (Amendment) Order
Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution

7.00-7.15 pm Evening worship

Wednesday 12 February

9.15 am – 1.00 pm
9.15 am Worship
9.30 am Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury
Motion on proposed new legislation on Safeguarding

11.00 am Legislative Business
(Any uncompleted business from Tuesday)

Not later than 11.45 am Southwark DSM: Environmental Issues

2.30 pm – 5.30 pm

2.30 pm PMM: Alison Ruoff: Girl Guides’ Promise
PMM: Revd Christopher Hobbs: Canon B 8

Not later than 4.15 pm Pilling Report: Presentation and Next Steps (including Q&A)


5.30 pm Prorogation

Contingency Business
Guildford DSM on the Magna Carta


General Synod member supports Jamaican buggery law

Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion has a comprehensive report of a recent conference in Jamaica, at which one of the speakers was Andrea Minichiello Williams, the founder of Christian Concern, who is also a General Synod member, elected from the Diocese of Chichester.

Christian Concern Founder Urges Jamaica Keep Homosexuality Criminalized.

Activists from the United States and United Kingdom opposed to LGBT rights have urged Jamaican Christian conservatives to resist repealing the country’s buggery law, similar to sodomy laws, by arguing that homosexuality is a choice and connected to pedophilia.

… [Peter] LaBarbera [of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality] and Andrea Minichiello Williams, founder of the United Kingdom’s Christian Concern, spoke Saturday at a conference organized by the Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Society and the Christian Lawyers’ Association [sic – should be “Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship”] in Kingston.

…During her remarks, Andrea Minichiello Williams of the United Kingdom’s Christian Concern said Jamaica had the opportunity to become a world leader by fending off foreign pressure to decriminalize same-sex intercourse…

He continues with some very interesting background information and links about Christian Concern, which are worth studying.

His main source for the Jamaica event is Buzzfeed which had U.S., U.K. Activists Urge Jamaicans To Keep Same-Sex Intercourse Illegal. That report in full:

…During her remarks, Andrea Minichiello Williams of the United Kingdom’s Christian Concern said Jamaica had the opportunity to become a world leader by fending off foreign pressure to decriminalize same-sex intercourse.

“Might it be that Jamaica says to the United States of America, says to Europe, ‘Enough! You cannot come in and attack our families. We will not accept aid or promotion tied to an agenda that is against God and destroys our families,’” she said, adding to applause, “If you win here, you will have an impact in the Caribbean and an impact across the globe.”

She made the case that it is a “big lie” that homosexuality is inborn, arguing instead it is caused by environmental factors like “the lack of the father” and “sometimes a level of abuse.” She illustrated her point with the case of 19-year-old British diver Tom Daley and his reported relationship with American screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.

Daley, she said, who is “loved by all the girls and had girlfriends,” had “lost his father to cancer just a few years ago and he’s just come out on YouTube that he’s in a relationship with a man, that man is 39, a leading gay activist in the States.”

Williams warned that removal of Britain’s sodomy law was the start of a process that has led to more and more permissive laws, including equalizing the age of consent laws for homosexual and heterosexual intercourse.

“Once you strip away all this stuff, what you get is no age consent … nobody ever enforces that law anymore,” she said. “We already have a strong man-boy movement that’s moving in Europe.”

She also described several cases in which she said people had been fired for their jobs for their opposition to LGBT rights and said people with views like hers are being silenced in the media and intimidated with the threats of hate-speech lawsuits. This was especially true, she suggested, when organizations like hers try to claim a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia, she said.

“They hate the line of homosexuality being linked to pedophilia. They try to cut that off, so you can’t speak about it,” she said. “So I say to you in Jamaica: Speak about it. Speak about it.”

She took issue with the notion that advancing such arguments in opposition to expanding legal rights for LGBT people was hate speech. On the contrary, she said, “We say these things because we’re loving, we’re compassionate, we’re kind, because we care for our children…. It is not compassion and kind to have laws that lead people [to engage] in their sins [that] lead to the obliteration of life, the obliteration of culture, and the obliteration of family.”

Box Turtle Bulletin has Peter LaBarbera Wants to Throw You In Prison.

…On this trip he was joined by Andrea Minichiello Williams, founder of United Kingdom’s Christian Concern. She also wants to throw you in prison, and let there be no mistaking that:

Williams warned that removal of Britain’s sodomy law was the start of a process that has led to more and more permissive laws, including equalizing the age of consent laws for homosexual and heterosexual intercourse…

And there is also this news report in The Gleaner ‘Don’t Bow To Gay Pressure’ – Crusaders Urge Jamaicans To Stand By Buggery Law

…Similarly, Andrea Williams, a Christian lobbyist in the legal public policy arena in the United Kingdom, told The Gleaner that family values should be prioritised.

“When we begin to make normal something that is contrary to proper family standards, that is social engineering, and we are in serious trouble, ” she said.

“What Jamaica needs to understand is that the homosexual activists have an incremental agenda; because this is where its starts, by them asking for rights, and then our society’s morals become redefined,” she continued…

…Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has promised to have the Parliament engage in a conscience vote on whether or not to repeal the buggery act…

Savi Hensman at Ekklesia has also written about this, see Sexuality, harm and the language of love. She notes that:

…Jamaica is one of the most unsafe places in the world to be LGBT. In the words of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ 2012 Report on the situation of human rights in Jamaica, they “face political and legal stigmatisation, police violence, an inability to access the justice system, as well as intimidation, violence, and pressure in their homes and communities.”

“In failing to take an active stand against discrimination based on sexual orientation, the State is failing to respect and protect the rights of those targeted. Rather, Jamaica’s major political parties have proposed or defended some of the world’s most stringent anti-sodomy laws while adopting homophobic music for their political campaigns,” the report stated. “The IACHR is concerned that laws against sex between consenting adult males or homosexual conduct may contribute to an environment that, at best, does not condemn, and at worst condones discrimination, stigmatisation, and violence”.

At the time of writing, there is no mention at all of this event on the website of Christian Concern.



Alice Roberts writes in The Observer to explain Why I won’t be going back to Bristol’s creationist zoo.

Charles Moore writes in The Telegraph about a visit to a theological college: What the Tories could learn from St Mellitus.

Janet Henderson blogs about Woodhead on Feminism and Christianity.

Giles Fraser asks in The Guardian Why mislead children about Santa? Demystification is essential to faith.

And finally, is this how it happened all those years ago? Registering the Birth


Why do Christians disagree?

David Atkinson a former Bishop of Thetford has written an article, originally published in Ministry Today UK, 59, Autumn 2013. but now reproduced by Fulcrum.

Why do Christians disagree?

…So why do Christians disagree? On the legitimacy of divorce and right of remarriage, on abortion, on just war or pacifism, on usury, on contraception, on genetic engineering, on sexuality, on economic priorities, on response to climate change – to name just a few moral and political questions, not to mention doctrines of church, ministry, mission and eschatology.

At one level, of course, disagreements can arise simply because people have different experiences of life and come into contact with different facts about the world which can confront assumptions, challenge previously held views, or harden attitudes. For example, we could think of a woman who senses a call from God into the ordained ministry of the Church. She belongs to a church congregation that has always taken the view that the ordination of women is contrary to Scripture or tradition or to good ecumenical relationships. ‘However’, says someone in that congregation, ‘though I have always been against the ordination of women, because it is you I’m willing to change my mind.’ Or to give another example, we could think of a Christian man who has, for social and theological reasons, always been opposed to homosexual relationships but who gets to know a loving gay couple whose lives display the fruits of God’s Spirit, and who then finds himself forced by that fact to revisit his understanding Scripture or his inherited attitudes to gay people. Sometimes hard facts of experience compel a change of attitude or change of mind.

There is no such thing as uninterpreted experience, and there are other factors that can influence our understanding of ourselves and our interpretation of the facts of our experiences. Some of these other factors give us different ways into the question: why do Christians disagree? Here are five…

Do read it all.


Pilling report: LGB&T Anglican Coalition responds

The LGB&T Anglican Coalition has issued this press release:

Press release in response to the Report from the House of Bishops’ Working Group on Human Sexuality (the Pilling Report)

The LGB&T Anglican Coalition welcomes the publication of The Pilling Report and we appreciate that it was made public so soon.

It is good that the report recognises the diversity of theological views on this issue, including within the Evangelical wing of the Church. We are glad that the report denounces homophobia (though it is not clearly enough defined). We believe that it makes it easier for clergy to bless partnerships publicly and it calls for further discussion to try to discern where the Spirit is leading the church.

It is also good that LGB&T clergy will not face intrusive questioning though they are still asked to promise to abide by a code which would exclude most from the kind of loving and supportive relationship which others can enjoy.

We are disappointed that the Report has only mentioned rather than included transgender people in the discussion, despite submissions from transgender and LGB&T Christian organisations.

We are also disappointed that no liturgy of thanksgiving or blessing is proposed, but overall we are thankful for the working party’s effort. We trust and hope that the report may move the Church of England forward.

The LGB&T Anglican Coalition and its member organisations stand ready to support the proposed facilitated conversations both in Dioceses and nationally. We look forward to being fully included in all steps to help the Church of England find a way forward and we value the Pilling report as a useful contribution to the coming debate.

We are also convinced that there must be a greater openness to, and a wider understanding, of the extensive range of scientific and theological work that has been, and is currently being undertaken on transgender issues and same-sex issues in addition to those relied upon within the report. We believe that what is presented there is insufficient to provide a strong and reliable foundation for the proposed conversations and we trust that these issues will be further addressed in the coming debate.

Mike Dark and John Blowers,
Joint-Chair, LGB&T Anglican Coalition.


Still more comments on the Pilling report

Updated Thursday evening

The Council of Bishops of the Society of Saint Wilfred and Saint Hilda have issued this statement:

The Pilling Report: Statement by the Council of Bishops of the Society

The Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality (the Pilling Report) is an important piece of work which deserves careful consideration. We encourage our clergy and people to read it and reflect upon it prayerfully.

We note that the Report proposes no change in the doctrine of the Church of England and that its practical recommendations remain, at this stage, recommendations to the House of Bishops.

Those of us who are members of the Church of England’s College of Bishops will be discussing it with other members of the College in January, and we shall also be discussing it at our own meeting in February. We plan to comment more fully after those discussions.

On behalf of the Council
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson Chairman

Andrew Symes, Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream published The Pilling Report: quick Q and A. The full text is copied below the fold.

The Global South of the Anglican Communion has issued this quite long Statement in response to the Pilling Report.

We are writing to express our serious concerns in regard to the Pilling Report. We know that the House of Bishops of the Church of England will be discussing this and we would like to assure them of our prayers so that the Holy Spirit would guide them to the right decisions.

First, we would like to say that we believe that the church of Christ should not in any way be homophobic or have any kind of phobia. We should follow in the steps of Jesus Christ who embraced all the marginalized of his society; having said that, we must say that we did not read of any homophobic statement from any bishop or clergy in the Church of England. It is sad that anyone who does not support the ministry of gay and lesbians, as well as same-sex marriages, is considered homophobic. Obviously there is a big difference between those who refuse to recognize the presence of homosexuals in the church, i.e. homophobic, and those who do support Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 and do not support the ministry and ordination of non-celibate gay and lesbians, as well as same-sex marriages.

The Pilling Report raises an important question which requires an answer: will the Church of England conform to its context, i.e. will the Church of England allow the society to shape its faith and practice in such a way in order to be acceptable by the society, or will the Church of England recognize that its distinctive mission is to transform the society? …