UK Apologetics Interviews Christian Concern

Who/What is 'Christian Concern'?

It is a British-based charitable organisation which seeks to defend and uphold the rights of Christians where they are prevented from practising their beliefs and/or from being true to their consciences in any situation in modern Britain.

W e asked the Head of Communications at Christian Concern, for some introductory comments about their work. He stated,

Andrea Minichiello Williams

Andrea is a barrister and the Director of the Christian Legal Centre. Andrea is closely involved with cases where Christians are defending their right to speak biblical truth in the public sphere.

Initially specialising in Criminal and Family law, she has for many years been involved in the public arena seeking to influence Government Policy for Christian values. Andrea continues to focus on policy matters and Christian Interest cases, specifically freedom for Christians to speak truth in the public sphere, and to live according to biblical standards.

(This information taken from this page.)

"Our nation has been shaped and defined by the Christian faith for hundreds of years. At Christian Concern we seek to introduce a Christian voice into law, the media and government. We believe that by doing so, society as a whole will benefit.

In order to make a difference we lead the church in campaigns to encourage Christians to stand up and speak out on issues that matter.

We have been at the forefront of every major legal and political battle where Christian values have been challenged. We raise a Christian voice in the media and we have placed many stories in national newspapers and on television. We seek to put the hope of Christ at the heart of the nation.

The inspiration for Christian Concern has come, in particular, from David Clark, Ade Omooba, Sam Solomon and Andrea Minichiello Williams.

Our sister organisation, the Christian Legal Centre, deals with cases on issues such as religious freedom, abortion and marriage and the family. The Christian Legal Centre defends Christians who have stood for their beliefs and suffered the consequences, and deals with many enquiries from members of the public on these issues. Andrea Minichiello Williams is CEO of Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre. Andrea has a vision for a transformed nation where society is ordered in the light of God’s Word and where the Church is united and free to speak of Christ’s love and truth in every sphere.  She is concerned to stir up the Church to speak boldly in the public square on the issues of the day and to train up the next generation of leaders."

Robin Brace, founder and editor of UK Apologetics then put eight questions to Andrea Minichiello Williams regarding the work of Christian Concern:

Robin's Question 1: Here at UK Apologetics we have recently been impressed with the work of 'Christian Concern' here in the UK. When did your organisation come into existence?

Andrea's Answer: The Christian Legal Centre was incorporated in 2007, and Christian Concern in 2008.

Robin's Question 2: Many of us are utterly appalled by some of this new legislation which attacks a Christian's freedom of conscience. Interestingly, my own experience of this sort of thing occurred a few years ago, not recently at all, when I applied to assist the Citizens Advice Bureau as a volunteer, here in Penarth, Wales. Everything went well until it was learned that I was a Christian then I suddenly realised that the former polite format of the interview had turned a little hostile. The prospect of two homosexual men wanting to adopt children was thrown at me (this was a very new idea back then); would I assist such a couple? No, I stated, I would not, so that particular case would have to be handled by another CAB volunteer. I expected my honesty to be appreciated. To my surprise I was told that I would be unsuitable for assisting the CAB unless I changed my views. I replied that there was no possibility of my Christian views changing, but that I had a wealth of experience which could be of help to the CAB. But I was still rejected.

Does not my experience suggest that some of these things (that is, discrimination against Christians) have been occurring for quite a long time here in the UK but are only now coming into the open? My experience was, of course, was well before the Labour government's anti-Christian legislation came into force.

Andrea's Answer: Your experience is typical and similar scenarios are frequently experienced by Christians in the UK. We handle around 40 cases at any one time and these represent the tip of the ice-berg. Most Christians don't complain when they are discriminated against and don't want to make a fuss. However, we believe that we should expose what is happening and shine the light on these regular injustices. Due to the introduction of equalities legislation the number of cases appears to be increasing and something needs to be changed fast. We cannot continue to see freedom of belief and freedom of speech eroded, as there is already an invisible bar to Christians in some areas of public life. Christians have so much to offer society and we must not accept being silenced.

Robin's Question 3: Is it just possible that, in a few cases at least, Christians have been a little naive? We all believe that there should be freedom of speech and that believers must have a right to follow their consciences, but don't we all have to note the 'times and the seasons' and to recognise that this is no longer a country which generally favours and supports Christian values and views?

Andrea's Answer: This is a nation in which the political and judicial class no longer favours Christian values, although I’m not sure that the same can be said of the general public. Our clients are ordinary Christians who have been penalised, not for doing anything outrageous, but for simply wanting to live and work in-line with their beliefs, or for sharing the gospel. It is vital that their freedom to do so is defended, whatever the climate. Christians need to be encouraged to share their faith and be bold, and not be ashamed of the gospel.

Robin's Question 4: Many of us believe that the rot started to set into British society back in the 1960s with the influence of such arch-liberals as Roy Jenkins, David Steele and Leo Abse, although there were others too of course. Why, in your opinion, were Christians so slow to react to what was (at the time) a new, very pro-liberal political and social trend which would - at length - very likely lead to the Christian community being isolated? Surely we were all a little slow in seeing all of this coming?

Andrea's Answer: Some parts of the church have been hesitant to engage in the public sphere. Other leaders are just very busy trying to run their own churches. Of course, if the church had been a more united and bold voice to the nation, then we would not be in the situation that we are now in. We would encourage Christian leaders to engage with political issues and to take a stand for truth and righteousness.

Robin's Question 5: Should Christians become more politically active? If so, how could this be achieved when we are separated into so many groupings? It seems as though politicians believe that they don't need to take us seriously because we are somewhat diverse and separated - not a single body.

Andrea's Answer: We need to come together with one voice. The more unified Christians are, and the more we speak with truth and clarity, then the more we will be listened to. Christian Concern itself represents supporters from a large range of Christian backgrounds. We work with many different churches and will continue to do so. We would encourage Christians to become more politically active because this makes a difference and we are meant to influence the world around us, rather than be influenced by it.

Robin's Question 6: If we consider the matter of abortion, at one time the very idea of legalized abortion in this land would have been completely unthinkable, but now it is almost unquestioned except by evangelical Christians and some members of other faiths. But, quite suddenly, euthanasia has now appeared on the scene with an ever-growing lobby of supporters. Do you see 'the writing on the wall' that these liberal activists will just push and push over the next few years until "assisted suicide" (or whatever it comes to be called) will become largely unquestioned (except by believers) within, possibly, twenty or thirty years? Could one even imagine a society in which elderly people are put under pressure to set a date for their own 'assisted' demise? I know that this sounds like an utter Orwellian horror story, but widespread government-approved abortion would also have been considered a most absurd horror story in the 1950s yet it arrived during the 1960s. What do you think?

Andrea's Answer: There is no doubt that there is currently a well planned and concerted push from some quarters to legalise assisted suicide. It would be a terrible step in the wrong direction. At the moment, the battle is on to capture public opinion on the issues. We will be doing everything we can to stop the legalisation of assisted suicide and to highlight the dangers of allowing it. I hope and believe that it will not become legal.

Robin's Question 7: What is your advice to the Christian who siddenly finds himself/herself being persecuted for their beliefs in the Britain of 2011? What is the first thing they should do?

Andrea's Answer: They should pray and ask the Lord for guidance. If they need any help then of course they can contact the Christian Legal Centre for advice and support. We operate on a pro bono basis.

Robin's Final Question: What hopes do you have that the present dire situation for Bible-believing Christians could improve? Surely the plain attack on the Christian Faith can be legally challenged at some point. Some positive noises have come from the conservative side of the present coalition government regarding the status of Christianity, especially during the pope's visit, but nothing seems to be happening yet. Is there a way forward?

Andrea's Answer: We pray that God will raise up His church in this hour to take a stand for Christ no matter what the cost. The contrast between light and darkness will increase. Humanistic worldviews are bankrupt and will be increasingly exposed as the bad fruit becomes clear. I believe that change will come. We have to present the alternative – Jesus Christ, the hope for our nation.

That completes this brief but very interesting and revealing interview. We would like to thank Christian Concern and Christian Legal Centre for granting us this interview.
Robin A. Brace. June 8th 2011.

Please pay a visit to the Christian Concern website to learn more of their work.