Press release from Changing Attitude Sussex: the silence of Andrea Minichiello Williams



Ever since reports of her speech in Jamaica urging retention there of the law which imprisons homosexual men for ten years with hard labour, and arguing that in this way Jamaica would be a beacon for Europe and America to follow, C of E General Synod member, Andrea Minichiello Williams, has gone to ground.

The details of her attack on gay people can be read at December 17th.

This silence is highly uncharacteristic for the normally publicity-hungry self-styled mouthpiece of the Almighty. All attempts by national and local media to contact her have failed.  For once she is ‘unavailable for comment’.


Changing Attitude Sussex believes it is because she has blown the gaff about the true intentions of conservative evangelical Christian activists: to recriminalise homosexuals.  She has spoken the truth which they did not want made public.  She has let the cat out of the bag.

During all the recent debates over same-sex marriage Williams’ organisation, Christian Concern, was never really interested in discussing the finer points of Biblical marriage which can only be between a man and a woman and therefore, alas, sadly and regrettably excludes two men and two women.   She and they were driven by a much darker motive: a visceral revulsion for homosexuality and a fundamental belief that homosexuals per se are abominations who have no rights to freedom, and ultimately no right to life itself.   According to reports, American fundamentalist evangelicals supported her at the Jamaica conference.  American fundamentalists are also believed to be implicated in the politicking in Uganda to bring in a law which would see homosexuals hanged.

It works like this. The gut-felt abhorrence is then overlain with a sanctification based on the dangerous doctrine of Biblical literalism which many evangelicals unfortunately believe. This pernicious dogma proclaims that every word of both Old and New Testaments is literally God’s Truth with a capital T.   God writes in Leviticus Chapter 18 verse 22  that men who lie with each other as with a woman are an abomination, and then God goes on in Chapter 20 verse 13 to tell the faithful to kill such men because they do not deserve to live amongst God’s holy people.

To be fair to Ms Williams and her supporters this position is at least logically consistent.  She numbers herself amongst God’s faithful and so she has to follow his commandments and endeavour to keep the people holy by expunging the impure and the abominable.  Much more difficult is the position of moderate evangelicals who want to have their cake and eat it.   They want to use Leviticus to condemn gay men (and bizarrely gay women as well who, it goes without saying, are not capable of sodomising anybody) but they are a bit queasy about exclusion from the community of the holy through imprisonment and still less by judicial murder.  And yet this is the literal meaning of the text they claim to believe is literally true.  Theirs is a truly untenable stance.

Ms Williams’ though is the real deal.  She is part of a worldwide evangelical  movement seeking to reverse the freedoms won by gay people over the past half century.  But in order to advance this agenda, which surveys suggest the vast majority of ordinary people in the developed world find highly objectionable, she needs to be a bit cautious.  Her comments in Jamaica were anything but.  She let herself go and probably now regrets it.  Hence presumably the silence.

Into the vacuum left by Ms Williams’ silence have stepped would-be defenders.

On the one hand there are those who want to defend her by saying we can’t be sure she said these things.  See for example Peter Ould who devotes his blogpost on December 18th to attacking the reporter Lester Feder, a classic case of shooting the messenger when you don’t want to hear the message.   But if Williams did not say these things what did she say?  At a conference where other speakers were also advocating imprisonment for gays.  And why is she so uncharacteristically unwilling to tell us what she said?  Peter Ould simply does not want to face the fact that he is metaphorically in bed with some rather distasteful bedfellows.

On the other hand there are those who want to say hear! hear! to what she is reported as having said.   Julian Mann, for example, in a blogpost published by Anglican Mainstream on December 20th, describes Williams as ‘an orthodox Anglican who upholds the Bible’s teaching that homosexuality is wrong in the sight of God’.  He also condemns the Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner for saying that Williams’ remarks have no sanction in the Church of England or the Diocese of Chichester, that her words were offensive and unacceptable, and that the glory of God is innate in every human being.

Bishop Martin’s statement should be a wake-up call to all of us, gay and straight, Christians and non-Christians.  There is a cuckoo in the nest.  In the nest of our society and in the nest of our national Church.  Organisations such as Christian Concern are campaigning to rob LGB&T people of the fundamental human rights and freedoms which are taken by most people today to be a matter of common human decency.  Ms Williams’ silence now she is back in the UK is eloquent.  We now know just what kind of obstacle Christian Concern represents to civilised values and to the mission of the Church of England.


  1. says

    I think a link to Peter Ould’s piece would be courteous and decent so he gets a fair reading. I’ll concede that we already have a fairly good idea of what Julian Mann over on AM will be saying 😉

    • says

      If I have upset Peter or anyone else by not putting a direct link in to the particular blogpost I am happy to apologise. Here it is: I thought people could simply google it if they wanted to check it out. Sorry.

      It is interesting that in his response today at Peter still seems to be trying to defend Williams on the basis that we don’t know what she said.

      He does not deal with the question of why she has remained silent. If the report was a fabrication surely she would have vigorously denied it, especially after the episcopal reprimand. And given her track record such silence is totally out of character.

      He does not deal directly with the question of whether or to what extent he agrees with the reported comments about criminalisation, or about homosexuality leading to the collapse of civilisation.

      And Peter does not deal with what seems to me to be the obvious conclusion that there are some conservative evangelical activists whose real agenda is the recriminalisation of homosexuals, and the reason Williams is in purdah is because she has naively and inconveniently blurted this out.

      Keith Sharpe, Chair, Changing Attitude Sussex

  2. Steve Mac says

    The Church of England is institutionally homophobic. It claims that ‘practising’ gay men and lesbian women cannot join the ranks of its clergy. It refuses to celebrate the legal civil partnerships of same sex couples, whilst marrying and/or liturgically celebrating the re-marriages of heterosexual divorcees. It allows people with offensive and aggressively homophobic views to hold paid positions as clergy and bishops and does not take disciplinary action when those views are expressed. A lot of it its senior figures put a lot of time and effort into trying to prevent the extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples – even those who are not members of the Church of England. When you think about it, that is very oppressive behaviour. It therefore comes as no surprise at all that a member of the General Synod like Ms. Williams should express such views. Her recent intrusive and unwarranted remarks about Tom Daley are just another sad sorry example of the stream of casual nastiness that flows out of the mouths of far too many members of the Church of England in particular, and Christians in general. She just sits at one end of a deeply unpleasant spectrum.
    Perhaps the people of the Diocese of Chichester will now move to unseat her from Synod. Or perhaps they won’t. Maybe – just maybe – she represents the views of a great many people within that diocese. I will watch the next elections with interest.

  3. Dr Christopher Shell says

    It is a reasonable point of view, and probably better than the alternative one, that there was a strong connection between the AIDS outbreak and legalisation – given that both (by coincidence?) centred on places like San Francisco and happened within a few years of one another, allowing greater organisation and therefore greater indulgence. This elephant in the room, probably the largest piece of evidence in the legalise/don’t-legalise debate (in which there are doubtless pros and cons on both sides), you want to ban from even being mentioned? That would be anti-honesty, anti-commonsense, and an example of pushing an ideology in order to support a preferred status quo.

    • Kate says

      As Sally Hitchiner rather succinctly pointed out on World Aids Day, the “The average person with AIDS is a young evangelical Christian woman in Sub Saharan Africa.” – and presumably you wouldn’t want to ban them from having sex as a way of preventing Aids. Obviously unprotected promiscuity spreads the disease – but so also does secrecy, illegality and social shame. One of the reasons that the Ugandan anti-gay laws are such a bad idea is that they are likely to spread the disease further as a whole section of society finds it more difficult to receive help.

      The reports, which for a month Andrea Minichiello Williams has not denied, have her saying that the current Jamaican laws should stay in place, which come with a sentence of 10 years with hard labour. To want to inflict this on another human being because they had sex would need one hell of a justification. Nobody has silenced Williams: many people have pointed out how awful they think her views are.

      • Christopher Shell says

        Can you please admit that a given homosexual is around 50 times more likely to catch AIDS than a given heterosexual? Prevarication on this point would do you no credit.

        You didn’t address the point about when, where and why AIDS broke out in earnest. It needs addressing.

  4. Kate says

    Could you please admit that you’re many, many times more likely to contract AIDS as an African than as a European? Does this make Africans uniquely terrible – of course not. If you’re in a population where the disease has ‘caught’ then you’re significantly more likely to suffer from it, even with relatively few sexual partners. In 1997, a terrifying 10% of the Ugandan population had Aids – it’s still at 7% today. According to Wikipedia ‘more than 40% of new infections are among married couples’. Attempting to outlaw sex among populations where Aids is endemic doesn’t have a shadow of a pretence of being a good plan. Interestingly, people are more likely to take care of themselves in their sex lives, when they feel that their lives are of value: an utterly marginalised person becomes a dangerous person, both to themselves and others.

    Plainly, Aids broke out in San Francisco bathhouses through an awful lot of unprotected sex, taking hold before people knew the risk. It continues to spread both in Africa and in the gay community through unprotected sex. Whatever arguments you want to employ apply equally to both communities.

  5. Dr Christopher Shell says

    Kate, the African culture (I am speaking generally and I am sure there are exceptions, but aggregates are correlated directly with averages) includes a massive amount of sleeping around by married men. In that particular respect, and to the percentage degree that this is higher in Africa than elsewhere, then of course Africa is worse than other cultures in that partiuclar respect. They could scarcely be all precisely equally good in that respect, could they?

    AIDS broke out among the homosexual population because of the intrinsic unhealithiness of (for example) anal intercourse, just like e.g. smoking is intrinsically unhealthy.

    I never denied the higher rates in Africa and have always affirmed the accuracy of this point. You will also affirm the accuracy of the point that a given homosexual man is absolutely massively more likely on average to contract HIV/AIDS (as a direct result of being homosexually active) than the average member of the population.

    This is the difference which you omitted. Homosexuals contract it because of homosexual behaviour which is intrinsically dangerous. Africans do not contract it by virtue of being African. They contract it because at this point in history so many married African men sleep around. At another point in history it could be Koreans or Venezuelans who do that. But at every point in history the irreducibly biological danger of homosexual behaviour will remain.

    • Kate says

      You need to read a bit more history. Prior to the AIDS epidemic, and particularly at sea, having sex with another man was seen as the ‘clean’ option for men who really wanted to get off, but didn’t want to catch VD from a sex worker. There was a bit of treatable gonorrhea and crabs going around, but generally speaking there was a window from around the 1950s to the 70s, pre-AIDS when there were virtually no risks to gay sex, except being captured by the police. Men in that period weren’t falling like flies because of the ‘intrinsic unhealthiness of gay sex’ – they were fine. If you want to produce statistics to prove that your average gay man in a faithful relationship is subject to all sorts of diseases from the sex he has with his partner – with greater frequency than a heterosexual might catch things from intimacy with their spouse – I’d love to see it.

      Your other assumption of course is that all gay men are into anal sex. I know couples who are and couples who arent – and it’s not a sexual practice only restricted to gay people.

  6. Guest says

    Actually I totally agree with Andrea Williams as do many millions. Why should we not also hold our opinion as well?

  7. Terry says

    I understand that Joel Edwards felt it was time to leave the leadership of the Evangelical Alliance as a result of the narrow bigoted views of Andrea Minichiello Williams and people like her.

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