Guest: Andrea Williams
Andrea will be touring Australia in July, for dates and locations, click here: notashamed.org.au
Andrea Williams is Founder and CEO, Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre
Andrea is a barrister who has practised at all levels of the British judicial system. She pioneered the Student and Policy work of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, and went on to found Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre. Andrea is a leading analyst, campaigner and spokeswoman on issues of national importance in the moral life of the nation and as defender of Christian liberties in the parliamentary process, the justice system and the media.
Andrea and her team at Christian Concern frequently appear on the BBC and other leading British media. Their campaigns include many topical life, marriage and family issues – seeking to shape public policy and encourage Christians on the value of biblical truth. Christian Concern is also focused on raising the next generation of Christian leaders in media, law and politics through their highly regarded Wilberforce Academy program.
Alongside her advocacy ministry, Andrea’s legal work has included some of the most high-profile Christian freedom cases and campaigns in Europe. Andrea and her team are often on the frontlines valiantly defending Christians and freedom of belief: nurses sacked for praying with patients, business leaders that have refused to go against their conscience, street preachers sued for speaking freely.
In her ‘spare time’ Andrea enjoys running marathons! Andrea is married and mother to four children.
Read more about Andrea’s organisation, UK based Christian Concern.
Andrea Williams recently told FamilyVoice what motivates her to speak up:
I wanted to be a barrister for as long as I can remember. I wanted to be an advocate, to give a voice to those in society who could not help themselves. I wanted justice to be done and believed that our great English legal system, founded on Christian principles, would secure such justice.
I never imagined that my skills as a lawyer would be used to defend Christians for following their faith in 21st Century Britain. In the UK, Christians are experiencing discrimination that leads to them being marginalised and losing their jobs. Christians have suffered after wearing a cross, sharing their faith, even offering a prayer.
Why is this? I believe it is because Western nations have forgotten our history and Christian foundations – our very identity. The legal and political elite tell us that we have now ‘grown up’ and are a secular nation. This rings hollow for many of us. Even those who might not attend church regularly still – the majority of them – identify with the great faith that shaped our nation.
Christian principles are clear-cut and easy to understand. They espouse life, joy, forgiveness, freedom, tolerance and justice. These principles are good for all and we are poorer as a society when we reject their source. The social reformers of the 19th Century who made England great – Wilberforce, Fry, Peel and Rowntree, among others – were compelled by their love for Christ and built on the foundations of preachers such as Wesley and Whitefield of the 18th Century.
Most of the great advances in public life, in healthcare, education and social provision, came as a result of Christian conviction.
Biblical principles of justice transcribed into the statute books helped to maintain true tolerance within our society, the dignity of every human being and the call to great sacrificial public service. Yet since the middle of the last century the Christian framework that shaped our culture has come under increasing attack.
While appearing to have the noble aim of upholding personal dignity, equality laws enacted in the past decade have acted as a political lightning rod to eliminate Christian morality from the workplace. In essence, they are being applied unequally. Marriage as traditionally understood no longer has any special status in the law and yet it is the first building block for a stable society. We have exchanged the ideal of marriage between a man and woman for ‘All relationships are equal’.
As the new morality is enforced by the State, the fear of appearing ‘phobic’ has led to many public bodies conducting ‘Middle Age’ witch-hunts against anyone who dares speak or even think differently. We want our freedom back. People should be free to debate, state and hold the view that a child needs a mother and a father without feeling ashamed or sidelined.
We don’t want preachers arrested or Christian registrars forced from office because they can’t, in conscience, officiate at same-sex civil partnership ceremonies.
We don’t want doctors and magistrates to lose their jobs because they believe that vulnerable children are best raised in a home with a mother and a father, or our children put in isolation because they refuse to take off a purity ring. I could go on. The liberal tyranny does not stop at the family but invades any manifestation of the Christian faith in the public arena.
It leads to a nurse of 38 years being taken off frontline nursing because she won’t take off her two-inch cross; it leads to an electrician being told to remove the palm cross he has had in his van for 15 years.
These cases are the tip of the iceberg. Most go unreported. It was the sense of injustice that led us, three years ago, to set up the Christian Legal Centre and its sister organisation, Christian Concern. Are we as a nation really prepared to let go of our Christian roots? Well, I am not, not without a fight. There cannot be a Big Society without a Big Story.
This nation’s great story is based on that of Jesus Christ. At Easter, we celebrate how, faced with a world that had rejected Him and gone its own way, God reached out in love, at the cost of His own life, to bring reconciliation at the most fundamental level – a reconciliation to Him. Christians for generations have responded to this story of new life, hope and sacrifice by giving themselves in acts of service to our great land. Western society ought to embrace and accept Christians, noting that true tolerance is accepting the differences, not silencing or eliminating them from public life.