Thinking Anglicans

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.

Update

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

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Kate Smith
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Kate Smith

In the conversation about whether Buzzfeed can be trusted as a source, everyone seems to have completely overlooked that some of the material also appears in the Jamaica Gleaner, which is hardly a pro-LGBT news source. True, it’s a shorter article, but they *claim* to have been present, and the quote they give from Andrea is nearly word for word identical to one part of the Buzzfeed report. That would be odd if it was all a twisted, biased account by Buzzfeed. It’s of course possible that when they say ‘AMW told the Gleaner’ what they mean is that they… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

So, the silence from Mrs Williams deepens, all reference to this catastrophic gaffe is to be removed, and attempts to discredit Dr Feder fell at the first fence. It won’t work. She might have had a chance of shrugging this off if it hadn’t been for the outrageous Tom Daley remarks, now she and her organisation are forever linked with recriminalising gay people. Gay organisations, particularly the Christian ones, should be investing in careful essays drawing out the consequences of their support for maintaining and increasing anti gay laws. The fact is these people not only want to be able… Read more »

Kate Smith
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Kate Smith

Hello Martin – I believe her next scheduled public appearance is at an Anglican Mainstream ‘What Shall We Do With Them Tharrr Gays’ conference in central London on 18th and 19th January. (I think the dates have been moved forward a bit, and I did wonder whether that was just coincidence, or because she’ll still be in a nuclear bunker earlier in the month). Either way, I can’t believe that anyone’s memory is really that short, and I agree it’s going to be immensely hard for her not to give some sort of account sooner or later. And yes, Tom… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Kate
Yes the dates have been changed, and the amended details are here:
http://www.settingloveinorder.com/

London 16 January. Northern Ireland 18 January.

The conference is organised by Core Issues Trust and Christian Concern, not by Anglican Mainstream.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

What a farce this is.

Either Williams said it, or she was misquoted. If she was misquoted, offer a correction. If she said it, own the statements, and explain why she takes the stance she does.

This silence does no good to her or Christian Concern.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“The Bishop of Chichester, the Right Revd Martin Warner, an Anglo-Catholic who leads a hitherto traditionalist diocese”

Meow! O_o

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

Before Mrs Williams’ appalling views were made known, Peter Ould made a similar speculation about Tom Daley, linking the sad death of his father with Tom’s joyous coming out. It is understandable that Ould should spring to Williams’ defence when his view are not too dissimilar.

http://www.peter-ould.net/2013/12/02/tom-daley-comes-out/

Peter Ould
Guest

Steady on David, all I did was ask the question whether there was a connection. I did not assert that such a connection was the cause. Here’s exactly what I wrote: “I actually find this really interesting (and well done Tom for having the courage to be open and honest). So what label are you going to give Tom? Is he bi-sexual? Is this one bloke the only man he’s ever really fancied? If so, does that make him a straight guy dating a man? And is that at all linked to the loss of his father at such a… Read more »

Simon Butler
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Simon Butler

I was particularly upset by the way Julian Mann’s article defending Mrs Williams was written to make a connection that somehow the Bishop of Chichester was in some sort of alliance with Changing Attitude, simply because his press release was quoted on CA’s website. The sort of guilt-by-association that the conspiracy theorists of Anglican Mainstream promote are hardly in line with the desire they have to uphold biblical values. Bearing false witness (even by journalistic sleight of hand) is still a sin. But, as ever, Anglican Mainstream are willing to sin “for the greater good of the gospel” (sic). The… Read more »

Simon Butler
Guest
Simon Butler

FrDavidH, I don’t think I would ever characterise Tom Daley’s ‘coming out’ as ‘joyous’. ‘Tentative’, ‘cautious’, ‘qualified’ would be better descriptions. Those of us on the progressive side of this argument need to be careful not to want to make people ‘fit’ what we want them to be.

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

I notice that, although the event is not, apparently, organised by Anglican Mainstream, Andrew Symes of AM has equal billing to Williams on the event’s website.

I also note that they have managed to get a Labour Co-operative MP as the opening speaker at the London conference. Extraordinary! I wonder what his constituents will think about this, especally after Williams’ Jamaica/Daley debacle.

“Opening Mr Geraint Davies, MP for Swansea West” (quote from event publicity material)

cryptogram
Guest
cryptogram

Laurence’s reference to Geraint Davies is interesting. Mr Davies recently had some publicity for a proposal to ban “gay conversion therapies” which he described quite rightly as “a terrible practice”. What is Anglican Mainstream up to?

badman
Guest
badman

Peter Ould’s logic chopping cannot mask what he is saying.

“is that at all linked to the loss of his father at such a crucial time in his life” undoubtedly suggests a link, even if it does not assert it. It’s silly, both ways.

FD Blanchard
Guest
FD Blanchard

Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but I came out as gay in my teens. My father knew about it and accepted me from the beginning. I was 42 when he died.
I was very fortunate, especially for that time and place (Texas in the 1970s).

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

It ought to work both ways,FD Blanchard, did your father’s death make you straight?

FD Blanchard
Guest
FD Blanchard

@Erika

No. How about you?

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

To be fair to Peter Ould, he takes a position, and stands by it. His blog is open for comments, to which he responds.

If Williams believes that the expression of gay men’s sexuality should be re-criminalized, I disagree in the strongest possible terms, but I would respect her courage if she did the same. We could at least engage with the view.

This silence I do not respect. Phantom edits on webpages are just bizarre.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

FD Blanchard, as Facebook says, “it’s complicated”. I always thought I was bisexual but I did not get civil partnered until after my mother had died. A clear shift there. My father died last year so I’m not sure yet what will happen. Who knows, I might yet have to end up divorcing my wife. And, James, I do not respect anyone who calls for the criminalisation of homosexuality on Christian grounds. You can just, but only just, still believe homosexuality to be immoral at some completely inexplicable level and against God’s will. But there is nothing Christian about calling… Read more »

RPNewark
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RPNewark

I await with interest Ms Williams’ comments on the posthumous pardon announced this morning for Alan Turing!

Commentator
Guest
Commentator

The video does not deny the words attributed to her. She simply says she fears only The Lord Jesus Christ and not the effects of her words on the life & safety of others.

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

James Byron: “To be fair to Peter Ould, he takes a position, and stands by it”
On the contrary. To imply in a question that Tom Daley’s bereavement has made him gay is both insensitive and highly offensive.
Then Ould denies even implying it.

Kate Smith
Guest
Kate Smith

Oooh look, she’s popped up:

http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/2013/12/24/andrea-williams-christmas-message/

She says she ‘fears not man’ – but clearly not to the extent of giving any sort of concrete explanation of her behaviour. And she sounds more than a little sorry for herself.

Lorenzo
Guest

With you all the way, Erika. It’s the inability to explain why it’s sinful that drives me insane.

Randal Oulton
Guest
Randal Oulton

As a Canadian Anglican, born and bred, used as I am to even all the varied dulcet tones of Yankees, I ask, what on earth is that accent Andrea Williams has?

Peter Ould
Guest

“To imply in a question that Tom Daley’s bereavement has made him gay is both insensitive and highly offensive.”

I agree. Good job I didn’t do that then isn’t it?

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

“what on earth is that accent Andrea Williams has?” Randal Oulton

Sounds like a North London suburbs accent to me – from the few seconds I could bear to listen to.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Erika, I can respect someone’s courage without respecting them (beyond the respect we’re all due as human beings).

I believe that religious condemnations of gay sexuality are homophobic in and of themselves, but wouldn’t deny that they’re Christian. A 2,000 year old faith does not endorse modern values of pluralism and toleration. It can adapt, and I believe it must adapt, but criminalizing homosexuality is, sadly, in line with scripture and tradition.

I just think that scripture and tradition are wrong on this, as they are in so much else. Criminalizing the expression of gay people’s sexuality is a horrific position.

Geoff
Guest

“Good job I didn’t do that then isn’t it?”

So it was a different Peter Ould who quoted himself upthread as “ask[ing] the question whether there was a connection” and musing “is that at all related to the loss of his father”? To raise the question is clearly to imply it. That kind of unsavoury speculation is ugly enough, but as Fr David indicates, you could at least salvage some shred of honour by copping to it instead of finding fault with everyone else for being able to read your own words on this thread. Need a shovel?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

James, I only half agree. Criminalising homosexuality is clearly in line with tradition but I don’t see where it is in line with Scripture. The real difficulty we have with Scripture is that it very often calls perfectly legal behaviour immoral and asks us not to hide behind laws but to take our moral responsibility extremely seriously. Tax collectors were acting in line with the law but not according to Christian principles. Divorce was legal but is declared to be immoral. Temple prostitution was legal and yet is clearly not seen as moral. Whatever one tries to make of those… Read more »

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

Towards the end of the comments following “Tom Daley comes out” Mr Ould wrote this:

Avatar
Peter Ould Mod • 21 days ago− + ⚑Well I don’t want to go “I told you so”, but I told you so. Misses his father, feels safe with a 39yo.
http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/tom-daley-boyfriend-dustin-lance-2891153

Jean Mayland
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Jean Mayland

We used to live and work in the next parish to Oughtibridge which could then be described as ‘open evangelical’ and where the Vicar was Ian Harland, later Bishop of Carlisle.How times and the Church change for the worse. I think the blog supporting Mrs Williams is a tragic insult to all faithful Christian gay and lesbian people and no reflection of the universal love of God revealed at Christmas.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

I agree, Erika, that the tension between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law is a central theme in the Bible. That doesn’t mean, however, that letter and spirit can’t combine in ways that we believe are wrong. While scripture isn’t a legal how-to, the infamous Leviticus 20:13 is unambiguous. It can, of course, be argued that it’s suspended in the new covenant, but suspension isn’t made explicit: far from it, Paul’s condemnation of same-sex acts makes an alternative reading at least as credible. I agree, in the strongest possible terms, that it’s deeply immoral to… Read more »

dr.primrose
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dr.primrose

Leviticus 20:13 says, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.”

I think one of the problems the literalists have is trying to explain why the first half literally applies but the second half doesn’t (since virtually none of them can stomach arguing that the second half literally applies as well). Frankly, their attempts to dance around the second half sound not terribly different from their criticisms of those who say the first half no longer applies.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

James,
even Leviticus isn’t as clear cut as it seems. This is what Accepting Evangelicals say about it: http://www.acceptingevangelicals.org/2011/07/bible-focus-part-2-leviticus-18/

Rosemary Hannah
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Rosemary Hannah

I always thought it was a mistake to use the ‘I was always gay’ argument, not least because it leaves every bi person out on a limb. For many it is true, but not for all. My view would be that it is better to point out that gay relationships are morally neutral. As good and as bad a straight ones. As supportive, as dedicated, as venial and as abusive as straight ones can be. Williams accent is bog standard English Suburbia. How she can confuse Jesus’s message of love, forgiveness and radical change with hers of condemnation and misery… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Accepting Evangelicals’ dual commitment to defending biblical authority and affirming LGBT people is going to color their reading, as it’s colored the reading of the scriptural ban on women speaking in church and holding authority. I’ve no doubt that they’re sincere Erika, but that conflict of interest sows the seeds for a powerful confirmation bias. Dr. Primrose is right to say that it’s all or nothing with these prohibitions. That’s why the cannier advocates of biblical gay-bashing cast Leviticus aside and set out stall on the Pauline material; which is no disadvantage to them, as it makes same-sex relationships a… Read more »

Peter Ould
Guest

For the final time, I have never anywhere suggested that Tom Daley losing his father “made him gay”. I wish people would take their “either gay or straight” binary lenses off and look at what I did write not what they think, using their own sexuality framework, I meant when I wrote what I wrote.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

In one of the more recent studies, and in discussions at SBL, William Loader has concluded–in his latest nearly 600 page study of sexuality in the Ancient World–that the Biblical references to sexuality–OT, Paul, Jesus himself–are no help for the modern homosexual movement, and are fairly consistently opposed to what today goes under its banner. He rejects the claim that Paul would not have understood what today’s goes as “homosexual identity.” He simply concluded that all of that will have to prove irrelevant if one is in favor of SS blessings, as is he.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Well said, cseitz, well said.

The Christian movement to end homophobia has stalled, in large part, because it plays a weak hand when it argues that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexual lovemaking. By making this argument, it implicitly accepts biblical authority.

A call to justice shouldn’t use the language of power.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

James, for me, it’s not so much about sincerity but about what actually speaks to people. There is no killer argument. What convinces one is a complete illogical aside to the other. The point, for me, is that there is no one way of reading anything, as the different approaches of different people show. To say that Scripture “clearly” condemns this or that is as dangerous as to say that it “clearly” doesn’t. And my question to all those who want to hold on to a condemnatory reading is still “why”? What is immoral about homosexuality? Why would a loving… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Erika: While I accept, readily, that interpreting texts isn’t a science, I’m not so far along the po-mo track that I’ll say anything goes. Words are signifiers, and some meanings are more likely than others: given the linguistics, time and culture, it’s likely that the biblical references condemn same-gender sexuality in all its forms. They’re wrong. You’re right to say that this runs against evidence, and does harm. That’s the crux: authoritarian thinking subordinates evidence to obedience. The Bible says it, we believe it, end of debate. In an authoritarian framework, words are judged by their source, not their merits.… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

James, I’m not saying that anything goes either. I’m saying that there is excellent pro-gay theology around, much of it looking at different scriptural angles and sticking points. And for every argument supporting the idea that homosexuality is immoral there is at least one very deep and good one against it. Which one will convince the individual depends on them, on their particular sticking point and on how they receive the opposing argument. If you’re interested in a scholarly biblical analysis of the topic you could do worse than read Tobias Haller’s Reasonable and Holy. It’s a small volume but… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Thanks for the recommendation, Erika. I’ve given Haller a quick google, & the reviews describe ‘Reasonable and Holy’ as defending same-sex relationships from a conservative position.

I wish Haller luck, but think in different terms myself, and believe the conservative axioms (revelation, authority, etc) are seriously problematic in and of themselves. Personally, I’m with Richard Holloway’s ‘Godless Morality.’

Change within the church will, I accept, come from a coalition built across the theological spectrum.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

James, I am not sure any longer what we’re talking about. You suggested that there is no way round accepting that Scripture does, indeed, condemn homosexuality. So I pointed you to Tobias who does take all the conservative arguments and demolishes every single one of them by means of proper scholarship while remaining true to Scripture. Of course, as I said previously, everyone is convinced by different arguments, your inner conviction takes you towards Richard Holloway. That’s fine – but please don’t make the mistake of saying that other routes of coming to the same conclusion are not possible. And… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“…who does take all the conservative arguments and demolishes every single one of them by means of proper scholarship while remaining true to Scripture.”

Well, that certainly ought to settle it!

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

As it happens, Erika, my “inner conviction” takes me towards saying that the Bible doesn’t condemn gay sexuality across the board. I’d like to believe that. Unfortunately, I don’t believe the evidence points in that direction, and must follow it where (I believe) it leads. I’ve looked into Haller’s arguments further — particularly the blog posts on which ‘Reasonable and Holy’ is based — and he takes a standard approach to “saving” the Bible: in short, limiting the scope of the “clobber verses” so that they don’t apply to faithful and monogamous gay relationships as currently understood. Conservatives find this… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

C Seitz,
it won’t settle it in the minds of those who do not want to change their minds.
But it enables people like me to point faithful evangelicals to different hermeneutics that can help them to come to different conclusions.
Very few are still completely entrenched. The balance of opinion in the church is shifting and it is work like Tobias’s that has contributed a great deal towards it.
That’s enough.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

James, I don’t know if you are a biblical scholar with a sound knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. If you are, do read the book properly before you dismiss it. If you are not, please don’t make the mistake of dismissing it on the basis of some cursory glancing at it. Your suspicions about Tobias Haller’s motives are not relevant, the coherency of the argument he makes is what counts. He is trying to change people’s minds about what the bible says because he genuinely does not believe that it says that. I find that admirable, after all, if we… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Thanks, I’ll stick with the serious historical work of Loader, who is also a progressive, and whose conclusions disagree with the ‘hermeneutical’ gymnastics you mention. Have a read while you are commending this smaller, popular work by a Gay apologist.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

C Seitz,
I wasn’t expecting you to agree with Tobias Haller, you are not one of those who are still trying to make up their minds, after all.
No, on this forum and others, people like you and me talk to each other knowing very well that we will never change one another’s mind. The real purpose of the conversation is to address those who are reading but not necessarily commenting.