December 11, 2017

UK barrister urges churches not to keel over in gay marriage stoush

Visiting UK barrister Andrea Williams talks to a Sydney audience at the Wesley Conference Centre on 28 July 2017. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

A barrister from the UK who has defended numerous Christians dragged before the courts for their faith has delivered an urgent message to Christians in Australia: the only reason marriage was redefined in the UK is because the Christian churches did not stand up visibly and vocally and speak the truth about marriage.

Andrea Williams described the UK today as “quite a dark place” for Christians. If marriage is re-defined in Australia, Christians here can expect to find themselves in a similar situation, facing sanctions for following their consciences or publicly expressing their faith, she warned.

“I’ve come here to Australia to try and point out what happens when the Church doesn’t stand,” she said.

At the invitation of Family Voice Australia, Andrea recently completed a speaking tour of Australia, with her last stop at the Wesley Conference Centre in Sydney on 28 July. Her tour was titled ‘Not Ashamed,’ a reference to St Paul in Romans 1 who wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel.”

Her main message to the churches in Australia was that they urgently need to find their voices if the push to redefine marriage is to be defeated.

“The reason we lost (the marriage debate) in the UK is not because we didn’t put up the best arguments; we made the case for the family, we made the case for children. The reason we lost – and there’s only one reason – is that the Church keeled over,” Ms Williams said.

“The Church was not vocal and visible for the beauty and truth of marriage – one man, one woman in lifelong union, to raise children within that construct.

“The Church did not point a lost and hurting world to the living God in Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom who laid down his life for his Bride – the Church.

“If we redefine marriage, we rob society of that extraordinary picture of the Bridegroom and his Bride,” she said.

With something of the fearlessness of a modern-day St Catherine of Siena, who boldly proclaimed the truth when many clerics were afraid to do so, Andrea was booed at the recent Synod of the Anglican Church—of which she is a member—for defending the truth about marriage and seeking to put the name of Jesus on legislation when the Synod voted to call on the government to ban gay conversion therapy.

PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

A barrister for almost 30 years, and a wife and mother of four, Andrea has defended the religious freedom of many Christians. She is CEO and founder of both Christian Concern – an organisation seeking to shape and equip Christians to publicly defend and promote the faith through the law and the media – and sister organisation, the Christian Legal Centre, which provides legal representation to Christians who have been unfairly discriminated against.

Since marriage was redefined to include same-sex couples in the UK in 2014, religious freedom has been dramatically eroded, particularly for Christians. At the CLC they deal with 200 case inquiries every year, involving scenarios you’d expect to hear from a Communist dictatorship, rather than 21st century Great Britain.

The Centre has provided legal representation to Christian teachers who lost their jobs for refusing to teach students about “same-sex marriage”, magistrates removed from the bench for expressing their belief that children do best with a mother and a father, social workers forced to resign because they refused to place children with same-sex couples, counsellors who lost their jobs for trying to help people with unwanted same-sex attraction, registrars who’d lost their jobs because they refused to preside over same-sex “marriages”, doctors threatened with the removal of their medical licences if they questioned gender-transition – the list goes on and on.

Recently Andrea represented Felix Ngole, a university student removed from his Social Work course for expressing his belief on his own Facebook page that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that children need a mother and a father.

Authorities at Sheffield University stated that Ngole was unfit to be a social worker as he would unfairly discriminate.

“What’s so shocking about this particular case is that he was a university student and he was removed from his course for expressing that view,” Andrea says.

“If you’re a social worker you have to deny your conscience. You either don’t end up working in fostering or adoption, or you leave your faith at the door. If you speak out, you are liable to the consequences.”

The situation in the UK also demonstrates that when marriage is redefined, what follows close on its heels is a push for what is described as “transgender rights”, which entails the obliteration of all recognition of differences between males and females and demands acceptance of even young children to be allowed to transition to living as a member of the opposite sex.

“We’re now in a position where we’re pretty much re-writing our birth records,” Andrea said.

“If you want to see the shift (after redefining marriage) it moves immediately to the obliteration of gender.”

“The medical push is to give hormone suppressants to pre-pubescent children, to give double-mastectomies and chemical castrations. Can you imagine that? What kind of social experiment are we doing? Life altering surgery on our little children… It’s insane and the Church needs to speak out.”

CLC is currently dealing with three cases where children as young as six are going to school as the opposite gender.

“You’d think in a sane world, the adults, the parents and educators, or the medical profession, that someone would say let’s help this little six year-old to live in the gender that they were born,” Andrea said. “Let’s align their head to their body. Let’s not join in the delusion.”

Andrea and her legal team are working with deeply concerned parents who feel they are not allowed to speak against the new orthodoxy of gender ideology at their children’s schools.

“Everyone becomes conforming because they don’t want to rock the boat. These parents we’re working with say they feel like pariahs. Such is the power of the propaganda, the power of identity politics and the labels ‘transphobic’ and ‘homophobic’.”

Christians, she said, are also being punished in the UK for public expressions of their faith in Jesus Christ.

In some cases schools have banned Christian students from wearing crosses and purity rings, while Muslim students are permitted to wear the Hijab.

Some Christian nurses have been dismissed for offering to pray for patients.

Increasingly Christian street preachers in England are being arrested by police for causing harassment, alarm and distress.

“They keep getting arrested and we keep defending them,” Andrea said.

“So far we’ve got a 100 per cent acquittal rate. But I believe that if our street preachers didn’t have cameras and recording devices, the judges and magistrates would believe the accusers.

“We’ve got the evidence which shows that they’re not being abusive or unkind, they’re giving the Gospel.”

Meanwhile, according to Andrea, in the UK there have been incidents of Muslims publicly holding signs reading “Kill the infidels” but they are considered to be practising “free speech” and are therefore protected by the police.

While she was in Hobart as part of her speaking tour, Andrea met briefly with Campbell Markham, the Christian pastor accused under anti-discrimination laws of offending gays and atheists in a 2011 blog post aimed at fellow-Christians, in which he quoted the Bible and questioned the morality of the homosexual lifestyle.

Andrea says now is not the time for Christians in Australia to retreat and live a privatised Christian faith.

“Awake, arise and shine and speak the lordship of Jesus Christ. We are not one voice among many – we have the answer,” she said.
Since the 1960s the UK has undergone “a very bloody social revolution”, she said, beginning with abortion and contraception, then IVF and embryo experimentation, human cloning and human-animal hybrids, three-parent babies, no-fault divorce, the proliferation of pornography, gay pride activism, and now the redefining of marriage.

“It’s all been done legally,” she said, and throughout it all the Christian churches were mostly silent.

With nine million abortions since 1967, and an unknown number of human embryos destroyed, in the UK, and now with the push for legalised euthanasia, she predicts that “The generation that killed its children will be killed by its children.

“We now live in a ‘post-truth’ age,” she said, where marriage is “redefined” and gender confusion is considered normal, where people have exchanged the truth for a lie, as St Paul wrote in Romans 1, and where Christians need to offer “a living Christ to a dying world.”

Impressed by the resistance in Australia to legalised euthanasia and the recent defeat of the Faruqi Abortion Bill in NSW, she said, “You’re holding the line on lots of things in Australia. I’m urging you to be the city on the hill.”

Drawing from decades of working to resist legislation that undermines Christian values and freedom of religion in the UK, Andrea knows that the softly-softly approach from the churches simply doesn’t work. In fact it permits such cultural changes to take place leading to less freedom and respect for Christians.

“I see now that the battle has been lost (in the UK)… and the only way back is for the Church to find her voice. It’s not by the Church retreating, thinking ‘What we’ve got to do is make the Gospel private.’ You mustn’t shrink the Gospel.

“Jesus Christ is public truth, public theology and we’ve either got to reclaim the institutions or we’ve got to build separate ones. We have to be culture changers and we have to believe we can do it.”

She also has a suggestion for what would make a powerful statement against the push for same-sex marriage in Australia: “I’m picturing all the archbishops (Catholic and Anglican) in a row out the front of your Federal Parliament. That would be awesome.”

“Churches of Australia, it’s yours for the taking,” she said. “I’m urging you to be the city on the hill. You’re the only people God’s got.”

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