Richard Bartholomew in his Notes on Religion reported a conference organized by the Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Society and the Christian Lawyers’ Fellowship in Kingston, Jamaica on December 7, 2013. His notes were based on a report by J Lester Feder posted on BuzzFeed. Lester was the only reporter at the conference. Activists at the conference from the United States and United Kingdom opposed to LGB&T rights 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.
One of the speakers was Andrea Minichiello Williams, a barrister, conservative evangelical activist, founder and CEO of Christian Concern, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, and a member of General Synod from the Diocese of Chichester. The Christian Legal Centre serves to “defend Christians in the public sphere and to protect the freedom of Christians to live their lives in accordance with their Christian beliefs.”
One of her strategies is to portray Christians as victims of secular reforms in UK society, particularly in the context of equality legislation. To achieve this goal, the Christian Legal Centre has taken up the cases of various Christians, losing most of them, and then claiming this proves that Christians are the new persecuted and need special exemptions from equality legislation.
Statements by Andrea are as annoying and misleading as the statements issued by Church which begin “The Church of England says …” Andrea is thought to represent the views of the Church of England and is partially responsible for the impression of many in this country that the C of E is deeply prejudiced, un-Christian and homophobic.
Addressing the conference in Kingston she said Jamaica had the opportunity to become a world leader by fending off foreign pressure to decriminalize same-sex intercourse. She 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.”
“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.”
“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.”
In an interview with The Jamaica Gleaner she said 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. 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.”
Last year Christian Concern co-hosted a conference in London with the World Congress of Families at which US conservative Don Feder explained that same-sex marriage is a Marxist conspiracy. A few months before the event, Christian Concern’s barrister of choice Paul Diamond appeared at a “Mass Resistance Banquet” in Massachusetts, where he warned of the “homosexual agenda” and of the persecution of Christians in the UK. Also speaking at the banquet was Scott Lively, who co-authored a book blaming gay people for the Holocaust, and who has been linked to authoritarian anti-gay measures in Russia and Uganda. Christian Concern’s I’m Not Ashamed campaign to promote Christian rights in the UK has been endorsed and promoted by former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey.
Savi Hensman has written an article for Ekklesia in which 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.”
Research on the Christian Concern and Charity Commission websites by the partner of a Changing Attitude Supporter into reveals that 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 list to whom this money was paid, nor offer an explanation as to why this figure increased massively from £30,127 the previous year, nor why the costs are ‘re-charged’ and not just straightforward ‘salary costs’), the largest expenditure was on events such as the ‘Wilberforce Academy’ conference where Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali was a keynote speaker and about which there was considerable protest at the time.