The Law Society held a debate on Thursday evening. Chaired by Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, the immediate last president of the Law Society, the speakers were S Chelvan, a gay barrister specialising in asylum claims, Benny Hazelhurst of Accepting Evangelicals, Hafsah Masood, a barrister interested in religious rights, and Andrea Minichiello Williams, a barrister, of Christian Concern and Christian Legal Centre and a member of General Synod.
There were strong supporters of equal marriage in the audience and strong supporters of Andrea’s brand of conservative Christianity – which she always presents as the orthodox and only true Christian position. She is an aggressive debater and frequently and persistently interrupted other speakers. She is also an advocate of the ‘we are in an end of the world Christian crisis’ point of view.
Andrea’s arguments were familiar:
- The idea that marriage is between a man and a woman is becoming a thought crime
- Equal marriage will have a devastating and catastrophic effect on society, families and communities
- If we depart from Jesus’ teaching about marriage we will end up in chaos
- She knows what true Christianity is and what the words of Jesus really mean
- Once the definition of marriage is fluid, what next?
- Same-sex marriage will lead to the breakdown of society
- It’s sinful behaviour, contrary to God’s purposes and contrary to God’s flourishing for human beings
- Proper Christians will find themselves out in the cold
- God’s will on marriage is divine and supreme (Matt 19:4-10), these are the Biblical rules, the views of God and they will carry on being divine
Andrea’s world view has no space in which LGB&T people can live with an authentic identity – in her theology we are non-persons, mistakes. Her theology and world view is entirely dualistic, dependent on difference rather than sameness or variety. In her world view, gays are the way they are through the prism of her particular Christian ideas and interpretation of the Bible and her use of scripture, simplistic and crude.
The Stonewall bus adverts – again
I was about to post this blog when the Pink newsletter arrived in my inbox with the headline “Christian Concern: Stonewall need to help us place anti-gay bus adverts on London’s buses. Andrea Minichiello Williams presented the idea to Pinknews after the Law Society debate. In the interest of creating a “level playing field”, Stonewall should be helping evangelical Christians place anti-gay bus adverts.
Last month Core Issues Trust failed in their attempt to get a High Court injunction to force Transport for London to remove Stonewall’s new posters on London buses, having failed in April 2012 to place their own adverts reading: “Not Gay. Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!” The Trust has taken the case to the Court of Appeal.
Justice Lang, who heard the case, stated: “The Stonewall advertisement was highly offensive to fundamentalist Christians and other religious groups whose religious belief is that homosexuality is contrary to God’s teachings.”
In her interview with Pink News Andrea Williams said: “I think it’s extraordinary isn’t it? I am surprised that Stonewall has not helped us here. Because at the end of the day… we are appealing in order to say ‘our ads should run’. The Core Issue Trust’s ads should run on the side of buses. If Stonewall’s can run, ours can run. There has to be a level playing field.
“[Justice Lang’s ruling] said that Stonewall’s [advert] was offensive and the British Humanist Association (too). That’s why [we need] a level playing field, please!”
“[Justice Lang] said it was offensive; it was offensive to certain sections of the community, both ways round. It was both ways round. She played an even playing-field on that. Remember when we are to have discussions, what we need to accord with one another is: grace, kindness, and level playing-fields. And it is very important that people are not excluded from this space because that is actually coercion, that’s tyranny: it’s a liberal tyranny.”
What kind of level playing field?
I’m trying to understand the logic of Andrea’s arguments, assuming that if I read what she says carefully enough, I will find consistency. I’m finding it difficult. A level playing field is a perfectly reasonable idea. Is the playing field for LGB&T people level, in church and society? No, we are absolutely no accepted on equal terms in the church and Andrea’s whole campaign is designed to ensure that we are never accepted on equal terms because God has not created us equal.
Andrea doesn’t want a level playing field – she wants her particular brand of theology and Christian teaching to be privileged over any change of teaching and practice which grants equality to those of us whose sexuality and gender from her version of what is ‘normal’. It takes someone who worships a tyrannical God to claim that those seeking equality in church and society are motivated by a liberal tyranny.