Thinking Anglicans

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.

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Revd Laurie Roberts
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Revd Laurie Roberts

It is good to see Andrea Minichiello Williams and her constituency make their political demands with such breath-taking clarity.

It is difficult to see how any civilized person in a democracy can support such views.

It is hard to see how she can remain on the General Synod for very long.

How ironic that Chichester returned such an anti-gay woman as their rep.

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

In what way does this ghastly woman, who is a member of General Synod, take any notice at all of the encouragements of many years, of Lambeth Conferences, of Synods, of Archbishops, and most recently of the Pilling report, to ensure that the church is a place of welcome to LGBT people and that all homophobic and hate language is forsworn? IN NO WAY AT ALL. She is a vile homophobe and deserves to be shunned by all decent-thinking people. She clearly either has no idea of the cruelty, violence, suffering and humiliation that her hate speech will encourage others… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“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.” – Andrea Williams (Christian Concern) – With a statement like this, Ms Williams certainly is a cause for Christian concern – but not the sort of ‘concern’ she professes to exercise. This ill-informed utterance is what is fuelling the rhetoric of many fundamentalist ‘Christians’ and is actually harmful for those LGBT people who are ‘as they are’ by nature – not by preference. I’d hate to… Read more »

Concerned Anglican
Guest
Concerned Anglican

Just what the Church of England needs to engage it with an ever more sceptical public … what is so astonishing is that there are people on the General Synod who can propagate such views. If they can think this what else is lurking out there amongst the elected members?

Dan BD
Guest

Clergy may not be members of the BNP. How is a lay member of General Synod doing this sort of thing any better?

Revd Laurie Roberts
Guest
Revd Laurie Roberts

“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.” – Andrea Williams (Christian Concern) – If Ms Williams truly and sincerely believes this, why does she think that scoldings (& worse), oppression, persecution and making us criminal will make any of us (feel) better ? She does not seem to propose loving and prayerful engagement with us, lgbti. Now does she ? How will the advanced anglo-catholic churches in her diocese of Chichester, be able… Read more »

rjb
Guest
rjb

What is it about Chichester?

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

I hope Ms Williams is given a procession of platforms, and allowed to express her views without let or hindrance.

My motive could be called ulterior, if it wasn’t so obvious.

Turbulent priest
Guest
Turbulent priest

She is a member of GS because she says what a lot of other people think. Which is why all this talk of “facilitated conversations” will, in my view, get precisely nowhere. We will probably find a way through the women’s ministry issue (or should I say men’s ministry issue) but this one will more likely lead to a schism, and the question will be who walks out first. The current problem is that those of us who don’t want to be members of a denomination that puts up with this sort of thing have nowhere to go—unless we cross… Read more »

Fr. Bill Albinger
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Fr. Bill Albinger

John 11:35 “Jesus wept.”

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“what is so astonishing is that there are people on the General Synod who can propagate such views.”

And that other members of the synod will be silent and implicitly supportive of it.

Simon
Guest
Simon

Every campaign this woman throws herself at fails. Her increasingly hysterical language and warped version of reality achieve one thing: the discrediting of Christianity. That someone like this sits on GS should be reason alone to review how the system works

Commentator
Guest
Commentator

Mrs A M Williams is claiming her ‘right’ to freedom of speech. As she does so I trust that she will be heard to be a supporter of freedom of speech in general. But I very much doubt if she will acknowledge that freedom comes with responsibility. Her words in Jamaica will have a far greater impact than had she spoken them in the UK. Jamaica is already a violently (and I use the word deliberately) anti-gay society. Mrs A M Williams’ diocesan bishop should request that she comes to see him and talk about this. I have no hope… Read more »

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

I’ve done a bit of digging on the Christian Concern and Charity Commission websites – to my initial relief, Christian Concern is *not* registered as a charity, but according to its ‘Donate’ page, Williams runs a separate charity called ‘Faith, Truth & Hope’ which appears to exist to accept money for “the charitable aspects of the work of Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre”. This separate FTH charity had a ‘donation and grants’ income last year of £451,454 of which £26,074 was Gift Aid income from HMRC. After expenditure of £218,567 on ‘re-charged salary costs’ (though it does not… Read more »

David Lamming
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David Lamming

Simon says that at the time of writing “there is no mention at all of this event on the website of Christian Concern.” There was mention of the event in the Christian Weekly News e-mail on 13 December 2013: “Andrea visited Jamaica last weekend to speak at a conference on marriage organised by The Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society and the Lawyers Christian Fellowship Jamaica. She spoke about the UK experience of weakening legislation on marriage as Jamaica faces increasing pressure to do the same.” No reference, it will be noted, however, to Andrea’s reported views on the decriminalisation… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

The important observations have been made here, I would be surprised if this helps this lady, rather it will lay down a significant marker by which to measure radical opinion amongst those Christians who would like to see the laws replaced that criminalised gay people. As yet Faith groups have been reluctant to say publicly they would like to campaign for the repeal of equal marriage, now we can start asking just how far they would like to turn back the clock. Ms Williams’ contribution to the debate in the West Indies may be very helpful in drawing people out… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Turbulent priest: Supporters of equality within the church need go nowhere. They’re not about to be expelled. They have every right to stay and lobby for change. Let the opponents walk if they wish.

Paul
Guest
Paul

As a (former) lawyer and a Christian I once joined the Lawyers Christian Fellowship…however it soon became clear that Andrea Minichiello Williams and I were not on the same hymn sheet, or even in the same hymn book, and I have watched her ‘progress’ at Christian Concern with interest. She is the polar opposite of a ‘Thinking Anglican’…

Jean Mayland
Guest
Jean Mayland

I find it appalling that such a person is a member of General Synod.How do we ever make progress on the Pilling Report?

No wonder so many people in our Society have no time for the Church.God must sit weeping as we turn ourselves more and more into a reactionary unloving sect.

Joan_of_Quark
Guest
Joan_of_Quark

If a lay member of General Synod does or says something outrageous (whether going on record as believing in the Curse of Ham or saying, “Actually, I’ve never believed in God, I only go to Synod for the free chocolate biscuits,”) is there any way for their electorate to recall them?

Hayley
Guest

I am deeply saddened to see these comments in black and white. I agree with the comments above: complicit silence is no better than ill-founded propaganda and polemic Chichester…??! Poor timing ref the Pilling report – but where is the accountability whereby a GS member can make such statements contrary to the majority feeling of the church and the ABCs recent statements on the issue? GS – does it work? Or is it just a place where extremists have access to an important decision making forum thus skewing reality? The whole conspiracy theory is rather a projection methinks, there is… Read more »

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

I think it is worth pointing out that wanting LGBT people put in jail, or have to live under the threat of it, in no way makes a person homophobic…. And, of course, it’s worth pointing out that worldwide the majority of the (presumably in no way homophobic) antigay Anglicans do hold this position. That is what one should remember whenever various people talk about how wonderful it would be if there was some sort of middle ground. Hmmm not much middle ground if you have to live with the fear of imprisonment. Where such laws have been done away… Read more »

Kieran C
Guest
Kieran C

Andrea Minichiello Williams supports a bad law. Perhaps there is a way she can show that she walks the walk that goes with the talk. Someone will eventually be brought before the Jamaican courts under this law. Ms Williams will no doubt be happy to impose herself on the Jamaican courts in order to defend this person (and any who follow), on a no-win-no-fee basis.

It won’t make her rich, but it might open her eyes.

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

Half a century ago, Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey was playing a key part in getting the law changed to decriminalise gay sex, though he still regarded this as sinful, and challenging the more extreme forms of prejudice then prevalent in England and Wales. Today there are bold defenders of human rights across the world (some LGBT, some not) working for decriminalisation in their own countries, often involving colonial-era laws. They will prevail in the end, but their work is made harder by people like Andrea Minichiello Williams and Peter LaBarbera. 65 years after the Universal Declaration, in addition to… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

If an MP, of any party, were to call for the criminalisation of same-sex intercourse they would be expelled from the party they were a member of, deselected and would cease to be an MP at the next election. There would be loud and universal condemnation from across the political spectrum, and if they made their call while speaking in a foreign country the foreign secretary would probably formally disassociate the UK, particularly if the speaker was a member of the governing party. A few benighted lunatics would claim that this was suppression of honest debate and free speech, but… Read more »

Revd Laurie Roberts
Guest
Revd Laurie Roberts

‘The UK rightly abolished this crime in 1957. Whether such conduct is a sin is a different question, on which, plainly, different views are held.’ David Lamming Sunday 15.12.13

The law was changed only in 1967 and applied only to men aged 21 and over. That shows how recently the UK abandoned this particular piece of mindless, and immoral barbarity.

However, for myself I am certain that this barbarity against gays is indeed a sin.

Revd Laurie Roberts
Guest
Revd Laurie Roberts

‘ I’ve done a bit of digging on the Christian Concern and Charity Commission websites – to my initial relief, Christian Concern is *not* registered as a charity, but according to its ‘Donate’ page, Williams runs a separate charity called ‘Faith, Truth & Hope’ which appears to exist to accept money for “the charitable aspects of the work of Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre”.’ (Laurence Cunnington) Laurence Cunnington has done us all a great service and indeed all tax-payers by bringing this matter to our attention. One can only feel the utmost concern that this is taking place,… Read more »

Lorenzo
Guest

Curious how these groups (Live in Christ and its many European branches), True Freedom Trust, Christian Concern, Anglican Mainstream, The Christian Institute and a few others all seem to operate from the same industrial estate in Northern Ireland.

Lorenzo
Guest

and their running of the Wilberforce Academy is done openly in partnership with the Alliance Defence Fund (now rebranded Alliance Defending Freedom) funded by the usual suspects of the American right wing.

Martin Reynolda
Guest
Martin Reynolda

Interested Observer puts the Williams intervention and conviction into context. I think she can be held accountable. I believe Chichester voters will be appalled and respond accordingly. I suspect the Church press will pick this story up and possibly the national press too. I contend that this is a significant milestone here in the UK, while we have witnessed American ultra conservatives putting huge resources into similar projects in Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria, few Anglicans have espoused such dramatic and very challenging views. As others say above it runs contrary to everything we have heard from Anglican sources of authority… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Hayley: There’s a 2010 law that forbids using threatening language if you intend thereby to stir-up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation. It’s doubtful that it’d apply to Williams’ Jamaican statement, but in any case, I don’t think it has extra-territorial effect. Jean Mayland: It is appalling, but to me, most the appalling thing is that people still hold these views, not that they have a platform. If this thinking is widespread, better to have them on Synod, so we can see homophobia displayed for what it is. Such talk is at its most dangerous when hidden, whispered in… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“The Wilberforce Academy?” Surely, old Willie is spinning in his grave.

Edward Prebble
Guest
Edward Prebble

The Wilberforce Academy?” Surely, old Willie is spinning in his grave

Well, Pat, that depends on whether they name themselves after Willie or his son, “Soapy Sam”, the Bishop of Oxford who gained notoriety for speaking out against evolution.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Those who attempt to contact the Archbishop of Canterbury should note the following, which is copied from his website: To contact the Archbishop of Canterbury or his staff…please use one of the following options. (Please do not duplicate correspondence by sending the same letter via email and post.) Write to: Lambeth Palace, London, SE1 7JU Phone the switchboard: 020 7898 1200 Or email: contact@lambethpalace.org.uk (Note: All messages to this general email address will be read, but we cannot promise a reply.) High volume correspondence From time to time the number of emails and letters received on a particular subject becomes… Read more »

Nigel LLoyd
Guest
Nigel LLoyd

It would be interesting to know what Ms Williams said in the address she must have produced for the 2010 General Synod Elections. She may not have expressed such extreme views there. She might have tapped into what was a view held by some people in 2010 that fully accepted LGBT relationships, but felt disquiet at the idea of using the word ‘marriage’. There is a skill in presenting yourself in this way in GS elections. For example, to say that you fully support the ministry of women does not actually give any indication as to whether you think that… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

“I sincerely hope she will not be returned to GS in 2015, but it requires others to stand against her.” It also requires the lay electorate to actually vote…as I have said before the numbers bothering to vote in GS elections is scandalously low, which is why the well mobilised “extremist” has an advantage. Perhaps Peter Owen could tell us what percentage of Deanery Synod members actually voted.

Peter Owen
Guest

Peter Ould compiled (with great difficulty) an almost complete set of detailed election results in 2010. Unfortunately they do not include the number of qualified electors, so all I can tell you is that in the election of Chichester laity 439 people voted. There were 22 candidates for 8 places. The election was by single transferable vote, and Mrs Williams was elected at the last stage.

You can find a link to Peter’s compilation here:

http://www.peter-ould.net/2010/10/31/almost-full-general-synod-election-results/

Peter Ould
Guest

Curious how these groups (Live in Christ and its many European branches), True Freedom Trust, Christian Concern, Anglican Mainstream, The Christian Institute and a few others all seem to operate from the same industrial estate in Northern Ireland.

Apart from the fact it is completely incorrect, that’s a very astute observation.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

To deal with the public homophobic pronouncement of Ms. A.M.Williams in Jamaica recently, it ought to be mentioned in the time given at G.S. in February, so that members of the General Synod can be apprised of the damage she has done to Gays in that Province of the Church that still criminalises homosexuals.

If the Church of England is really serious about outlawing homophobia in the Church, then this surely needs to be tackled at the earliest opportunity.

Lorenzo
Guest

I did not mean they all worked from there, they all seem to be registered, or whatever the equivalent of ‘incorporated’ is for charities, there.

Pedant
Guest
Pedant

Seems to be some confusion there in Jamaica between Buggery and Sodomy. The former is an unnatural act, the latter an unnatural relationship. They are both unnatural in the sense that neither can lead to conception. But exactly the same term unnatural could be said about many other common practices, including that of kissing or shaking hands. In comparison to animals we do a lot of things that are not natural – the wearing of clothing, make-up and perfumes being the most obvious. The question for us as Christians should not be the extent to which our sexual activities are… Read more »

Iain Baxter
Guest
Iain Baxter

I am glad that Peter Ould has taken the opportunity to correct what may be an inaccurate statement about the location of a number of organisations.

Perhaps, he would also like to take the opportunity to distance himself/repudiate/condemn the views expressed by Ms Williams?

He may have already done so, but not on this thread at least!

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Pedant: would that that were true. Much Christian condemnation of same-gender sex is rooted in authority, whether Bible or church, or both.

Confused Sussex
Guest
Confused Sussex

“I sincerely hope she will not be returned to GS in 2015, but it requires others to stand against her.” It also requires the lay electorate to actually vote…” We all know that limiting those allowed to vote for the GS to Deanery Synod members makes no sense.

Russ Naylor
Guest
Russ Naylor

I am deeply saddened by what I’ve read. Apart from Chichester calling Ms Williams to account, it make me wonder what can we all do? Pray certainly – but how & for what? I’ve been praying for years that certain people “will have a change of heart”. Could those who can get close to extremists like her, engage in conversation? What common ground is there? ‘Theological’ seems unlikely. This is a problem we have to work on & find a way through, in many areas of public/church life, not only homophobia : How to engage with anyone obsessed by hatred… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Russ Naylor makes a good point: what can we do? For a start, we can do everything we can to lobby the Church of England to state, unequivocally, that lesbian and gay people are not sinning by expressing their love physically. Perhaps Chichester diocese could take the lead on this? Introduce legislation in Synod to overturn Higton, compensate gay and lesbian clergy for decades of discrimination, and open the sacrament of marriage to all regardless of gender. By her own account, Williams came to faith aged four. Her whole life, she’s heard Christians say that gay relationships are sinful, a… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Perhaps a good education campaign–showing how many “abominations” there are in the Bible that we all pay absolutely no attention to–would be a start.

“It ain’t necessarily so.
It ain’t necessarily so.
The things that you’re liable
To read in the Bible
It ain’t necessarily so.”

We need a campaign against bible-reading credulosity.