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Interview: Andrea Minichiello Williams, public-policy director of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship

30 January 2008

The sexual issue is the issue of the day: it’s where the truth issue is being played out in terms of orthodox Christian views, and we can’t ignore it. I am against unjustified discrimination against anyone including the homosexual, but it’s about what are God’s precepts for truth and family.

I am an Anglican. I used to attend St Helen’s, Bishopsgate, where the Bible teaching equipped and trained me in my 20s. As a family we now go to All Saints’, Lingfield, where the Bible is being faithfully taught. You tend to find the congregation is bursting at the seams.

I first attended a Methodist Sunday school when I was four, and fell in love with Jesus. For my seventh birthday, I asked for a Bible and since then have read it every day. It was my best present.

I have never been arrested. In fact, it is a quirk to find myself in demonstrations, as I am quite conventional and I am a believer in the establishment. But the Lord spared us in January two years ago when we won our freedom to preach the gospel when our amendments in the Lords were not defeated; so it is important to state our case.

I practised at the Bar for seven years and loved it. I specialised in criminal and family law. In 1995, I went across to Atlanta in Georgia for my husband’s job. My daughter Lily had just been born. I had negotiated a year out of chambers, but I never returned.

We joined a megachurch of 14,000 people. One of their ministries was reaching out to women caught in unplanned pregnancies. Within 14 days of arriving, I found myself in downtown Atlanta with Lily in tow, and being assigned a woman who had been counselled out of an abortion.

My husband is the CEO of a telecoms company. I thought we might both become penniless missionaries, or I wanted him to become a C of E minister — imagine what kind of vicar’s wife I would make! But because of his work it has freed me financially to do this.

When I am exhausted from all these big issues — and there are so many at the moment — I find my four children are an oasis.

I became the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship’s first student worker, on top of being at the Bar. I used to do tours of the country. When we got back from America, they contacted me and asked me to revitalise their work in London. We now have more than 2000 members, including judges and QCs. We are working on creating the American model: lawyers who are committed to us for a lifetime building lobbying skills, as well as those who support us through their own work.

In the early days, I remember the Civil Partnership Bill going through. I was running the campaign from my study with children on my knee. I would do it differently now, and seek to create much more pressure, as I understand better the devastating impact of it.

It is not about being right, but looking at truth and what the Bible upholds. Sex outside of marriage wherever is wrong in God’s eyes. We are all sinners, but when we really love Christ we put him first and follow his precepts.

The scale of the defeat in the House of Lords [on an amendment in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (HFEB)] was extraordinarily disappointing. Where in the Bible does it say you can mix animals and humans together, even for research? The Bible is clear on these issues, but the Bishops were not at one. The Church should not reflect standards of society, but rather should point to society how to live.

Life begins at conception: read Psalm 139. We crossed the sanctity-of-life line for the sake of a few hundred backstreet abortions in 1967. We now have 6.8 million a year. We have power over the embryo, as we have taken it out of the procreative man-and-woman scenario.

Parental biology on a birth certificate is becoming legal fiction. A lesbian couple can become two parents with no mention of the father under last week’s vote. I have serious concerns about parts of the HFEB. Children have now become like a commodity.

When you don’t stand up for marriage, you get the redefinition of family. The issue for the Church began when it did not uphold marriage in the 1960s and ’70s as God’s standard for society, as opposed to cohabitation. The law then followed, making cohabitation rights the same as marriage rights, and then for same-sex couples. Suddenly God’s building-block, which really holdsa society together, was lost.

I spend so much time reading material in this job that I now prefer newspapers to relax. But I do read Christian biographies and other Christian books.

My father was Italian. He came to the UK in the 1960s, and met my mother. He had been at a seminary, but said he took a look at a pretty girl one day and knew that that life wasn’t for him. He saved tips from his job as a head waiter to buy our first home. He later went into the property business.

As a child, I remember being off school with chickenpox and watching Crown Court on television. I said when I grow up I want to be a barrister and then a judge.

The most important choice I have made was to follow Christ, and I would like to be remembered as someone who did that.

I have been greatly influenced by my first Sunday-school teacher, Mr Hickson. He is now in his 90s, and has prayed for me every day of my life.

I love to hear [the Revd] Dick Lucas preach: every time I anticipate something new. The last time I heard him was in September, when he preached on a Psalm about being bold and wise.

I see the Bible as a whole book together from Genesis to Revelation. But different passages have been important to me at different times. As a little girl, I always read Matthew 6.25 about not worrying.

In more recent times, I have turned to passages in Jeremiah and the Psalms about the Lord’s holding the nations in his hands, and to Romans 1, which speaks about our own condition.

I don’t know if it’s anger, but I do suffer despair, as I long for the Church to be relevant, when I think of the huge issues going through Parliament, and the Church is silent. There are enough Christians in this country to change the tide. We have become mute. There are so many good works happening locally, but they need to be translated into big-picture stuff. Before long, we won’t be able to carry out these good works, as the laws will be against us.

I love being on holiday with my family. We drove down Route 1 on the West Coast of America. I left my phone and computer behind, and thought: “I really could just stay here.”

I would like to get locked in a church with the Bishops in the House of Lords. We would have a lot to talk about.

Andrea Minichiello Williams was talking to Rachel Harden.


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