Page Content | Events
Other IMCs
Leeds Bradford IMC | UK IMC | Editorial Guidelines | Mission Statement | About Us | Contact | Help | Support Us

(((i))) Leeds Bradford

Read It. Write It. DO IT!

Fathers4Justice storm Archbishop's Service

Rebel W | 11.07.2004 11:52

Hundreds of senior church figures had their grand service in York Minster hijacked today as members of family-law campaign group "Fathers 4 Justice" marched in and demanded to speak. They spoke of the churches tendancy to carry out weddings, and not to look after those undergoing divorce, as well as Fathers unable to attend their own children's baptisms. There was no sign of the familiar flour bomb!

The first anyone within the building ("seat" of the 2nd most powerful Bishop in Britain) knew of the arrival of guests was a series of tell tale flashes reflecting on glass around the North West entrance, along with shouting.

The group, dressed in an assortment of fancy dress robes ranging from typical priest, via Monks to a Roman Catholic cardinal, moved quickly up the central aisle. One of their number, who would later give their speech, was restrained in the aisle by a member of Minster staff, and by this time various ministers were seen moving about frantically.

The woman giving the reading at that time made a valiant attempt to continue, but gave up when the group were obviously going to out-shout her. The organist shortly launched into the next hymn (leaving the reading abandoned), with the group on the stage receiving a short and highly visible audience with the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams. It appears that at this point it was agreed that, following the gospel and the next hymn, their ring leader would be invited to make a short statement and then leave.

There was a noticeable sense of eagerness amongst many to listen, surprising given the cold reception given to Peter Tatchel 12 months earlier. Amongst the congregation were the 500+ members of General Synod who had come together to make decisions for the future of the church. Storming the service gave the protesters certain access to around 40 Bishops, and both the Archbishops of Caterbury and of York, as well as many senior lay members.

In their speech they informed the congregation of cases where the church has turned a blind eye to those seeking to continue communication with their children. A debate some ten years ago was cited where Synod talked of the need for a family upbringing, and how it should no longer be silent on an issue which has deep significance to family cohesion in a day and age of family break ups. Where Synod had said that children need the upbringing of both parents, the group felt nothing was being done to preserve this when marriages failed. The particularly concerning case of Fathers unable even to observe their childrens baptism (traditionally the time a child is welcomed in to the church) was of obvious significance to some, who evidently saw this as an important event for all parents.

The groups spokesperson asked for forgiveness for interupting a service, and then the group left to some surportive applause. With this the service then picked up its path again, with the Archbishop of York giving his sermon on the Good Samaritan, and the service ended as normal with the Archbishop of Canterbury celebrating communion; sharing out the bread and wine for the symbolic meal.

Outside, a 20ft x 20ft banner was hung by the faux-cardinal, displaying clearly the logo of the group. The familiar activists blue-and-white megaphone was in evidence as the group assembled below sang typical rewrites of familiar songs. The police, ambulance and fire service were all on hand throughout.

Just a day earlier, the church took moves to make selection of a church as a marriage venue simpler, and narrowly defeated an amendment which would have moved down the road of ending the legal aspect of the church ceremony; bringing the church into line with the rest of Europe where Christians must undergo two ceremonies, one civil, the other a blessing of marriage in church. During the debate much agony was shared over the continued bar on priests marrying couples outside of churches, even within woods and other areas of natural (and presumably God created) beauty.

The corporate press had made much of a debate on so called "Heresy Courts" which proved a little of a let down and resulted in no real action, with the vote being lost in the house of clergy by just four votes, and thus lost overall. This reflected clergy concerns that Bishops would be given too much power, and the evangelicals among the laity would be given a new route to end free debate amongst the highly studied members of clergy like Dr Jenkins (former Bishop of Durham) who raised questions, the thought of which angered many.

Rebel W

(The Author apologises for lack of photos, however, the corporate media will probably supply them in due course).

Rebel W


Hide the following 12 comments

Call for Comments and Opinions

11.07.2004 12:53

Interesting article, Rebel W. As you say, the willingness of the clergy to productively listen to and debate with Fathers4Justice contrasts unfavourably to their treatment of OutRage! and other gay activists over recent months.

How do other Indymedia readers regard Fathers4Justice? They have prompted much debate amongst progressive, left and anarchist activists. The leftist daily Morning Star, for example, usually gives the group sympathetic coverage, but some feminist groups have argued that F4J is part of a chauvinist 'backlash' with links to the political right. A lengthy thread on Bristol's regional Indymedia site ( recently discussed the group, and featured reports that senior activists privately justified domestic abuse of women and so on.

Personally, whilst I would defend F4J's right to conduct civil disobedience protests (and naturally, the Commons purple flour bomb incident would probably resonate with many of Indymedia's contributors!) I am deeply disturbed at the allegations regarding the group's underlying politics. I would be very interested to hear what other readers think of things.

Thank you


Independent Left

no no no!

11.07.2004 14:18

i think they are a movement of middle class white men who think that everyone is against them. they complain that the government, health service, educators, media, police etc are against them. they complain that all of these are biased in favout of women, gays and 'minority' groups.

it has been a long struggle for equality in this country, and one that is not yet won. this movement, and f4j as part of it, do not want to share what they have owned for so long, business, money, women, family, children. they are attempting to take the 'power' back.

check out for a sample of the malice and misogyny in this movement.


an answer

11.07.2004 17:38

i refuse to believe such a ridiculous idea that white middle class men are being discriminated against in a society almost wholly run, in every way, by white middle class men. these pathetic over priviliged whiners are getting way too much time and attention.

i read today that the gov (and the tories too) are looking in to how they can improve their relationships with these men, the 'militant men' they are being called. (of course it would be too ridiculous to try and appeal to women voters). they are looking to a/ increase the time non resident fathers see their children, perhaps to 50/50. and b/ punish mothers who make contact 'difficult' by giving them community service (and presumably a criminal record?). this is to reflect that modern fathers take a full role in childcare and the family.

but do they??

information about child maintenance reveals that only 29% of resident parents (mostly mothers) are recieving as much child maintenance as they are legally entitled, which means that a whopping 71% of non resident parents (mostly fathers) are not contributing what they should be towards their children (21% contribute NOTHING at all). F4J actively encourage their members not to pay child maintenance.

(note: divorced women and single mothers, are the least wealthy, most poverty stricken group in the UK. more than half of all women jailed in the UK are imprisoned for non payment of fines.)

elsewhere.. survey after survey reveals that women still do more than 75% of childcare and more than 80% of the house work.

so, it is apparent that most 'modern' fathers, while doing more in the house and with the children than their own dads and grandads, are still doing a lot less than their 'fair' share. also, many fathers who want 'equal' access, are not prepared to help currently with the financial support of the children.

we can also find, relatively easily, information to show that the great majority of 'absent' fathers are absent of their own accord. but this Fact is never referred to by these 'fathers' groups, which is suspicious in itself. they also want a new law for men to be able to 'opt out' of fatherhood. they figure men should have abortion rights too, so before the child is born they should be able to sign away any rights or responsibilites of fatherhood.

they persistently push the 'family' angle, claiming that feminists have ruined the family. (i dont need to tell anyone here what that 'family' angle means to gay relationships). anyway, imo, 'family' was all bullshit anyway, who wants that 1950s family where the wife was a house slave and the wife and kids were beaten 'for their own good'? maybe 'family' was never what it said on the tin and feminists merely opened our eyes to it.



11.07.2004 18:27

Absolutely.. obviously the system for assigning custody through the courts is not perfect. But fathers who are completely denied access to their children (which seems to be a major part of F4J's gripe) would only be those restrained by court order - e.g. where there is history of domestic violence, threatening behaviour or abuse of the child.

I don't personally know any F4J members, but from news reports and their own statements I get the impression that they are reactionary 'political correctness gone mad!!' feminist-haters. The fact that they employ direct action makes them no more aligned to the radical / progressive left than the fuel protest mob.


Some response

11.07.2004 22:26

I should say that I waa there because, as per my usual schedule for this time of the year, I was observing General Synod, not because I support Fathers 4 Justice, however this was a rather exciting incidence, and I think I support them generally.

There has been some backlash against F4J because they, unlike Tatchell went after the service not the "conference". This is largely false: Both groups attacked when the security guards were off duty!

On the side of F4J, they got their references to the bible much more spot on than Tatchell, and their aim appears to have been to ASK the church for SUPPORT, NOT to redicule it. I'm sure Tatchell will be disappointed when it comes to success as he won't have his favourite pin cushion to attack anymore. Where Fathers4Justice at least came across as concerned individuals, Tatchell comes across as cold and negative. And, given the chance (and it may yet come my way), I would still vote for open gays to be accepted as clergy.

On a point of biblical matters, Tatchell is renowned for using the bible in either a clumsy or completely laughable fashion. Considering some of the top biblical scholars in the country are at General Synod, he needs to do his homework if he wants to convince anyone. Fathers 4 Justice made a much better attempt at being correct in what they said, and will receive support for that.

On the subject of why these Fathers are denied their rights, the simple fact is that some women, in spite of their (partial) liberation, believe it to be right to defy court orders calling for the Father to receive access. This has happened so many times in some cases that Judges have been forced under current law to stop granting the orders due to the time elapsed and the legally-stated likelyhood a child will still remember a father after so long. If a woman refuses to allow her ex to see her child for reasons of spite and malice, she doesn't deserve the custody of the child. It is bad for children to grow up with such a surrounding.

In fact, we must challenge the assumption that the woman must have custody. Why shouldn't men have custody of their children? (Because they ain't liberated enough to push prams in public, thats why!). Why shouldn't men push prams???

One of the big problems I think in both cases is a mistaken identity of Church Politics, as it is like no other, and has many more dimensions than Westminster Politics. It also has its own language, which uses the word Canon twice for completely different things, and other such incomprehensible quirks which even ordinary church goers don't get.

My reason for supporting in spirit what Fathers 4 Justice do is very simple: they aren't liberated. I want equality, not Female Ownership of Offspring. As Anti-Capitalists, we surely don't believe in the commodification of humanity, yet that is what is happening. Many women are merely acting in spite in demanding their children never see their fathers, and this is greed and hatred, and it has no place in a liberated world!

Also, I believe that Children have the right to access both Parents equally as they choose, because I support the liberation of Children. There are Children growing up today to discover that their single parent has been actively blocking their other parent from talking to them out of spite and not protection. However this is too late, children must be given access to both. Mothers do not own their Children, neither do Fathers, and I'm sorry, but you gets what you pays for, and if you can't see your Kids and have a meaningful relationship with them, why should you support them. They are no longer your kids if that relationship isn't there. Children need both parents, divorce may make that difficult, but it must not be a total barrier.

Liberation for Everyone!!!

Rebel W


11.07.2004 23:07

"Many women are merely acting in spite in demanding their children never see their fathers"

what evidence do you have for this massive generalisation? thats a particularly misogynistic sentence, accusing many women of spiteful child abuse with no evidence.

and of the women who do try to stop contact (who are a tiny minority btw), what makes you think it is out of spite, rather than fear? perhaps they are genuinely afraid for their children? perhaps they are afraid for themselves, it is well documented that some men use their contact visits to intimidate, harass, even assault, their exes.

and i suggest the reason the church is likely to back F4J is because: they are a group of white hetrosexual middle class men, trying to get the family unit back where it was fifty years ago with men at the head. they are on the exact same right wing racist misogynist homophobic power trip the church is.

i wouldnt even be surprised if the whole thing was a publicity stunt cooked up with the full knowledge and blessing of the church.



11.07.2004 23:12

"I support the liberation of Children"

I also support this. But since when does supporting children's liberation mean delivering them up to power hungry fathers who want more 'control'? This movement is not about parenting or fatherhood, it is about POWER and CONTROL. Take a look through their stuff and see how many times you see those words. Now see how many times you see the children or the children's rights mentioned. there is no discussion about how to improve relationships with the kids or the ex. there is no discussion about the fathers who abandon their kids and what to do about them. there is active encouragement not to pay child maintenance, when many single parent families live in poverty.


I've learnt a lot

12.07.2004 04:50

Hello all.

Thanks for all these comments. I've learned a hell of a lot, and it shows how productive Indymedia can be. I for one will subject Fathers4Justice to much more critical scrutiny in the future.

Rebel W goes slightly off topic to accuse the gay human rights activist Peter Tatchell of misquoting the Bible in previous civil disobedience focussed on the Church of England. Regardless of whether one is religious or not, it's an interesting claim. But please provide evidence or else it just comes across as an excuse for an off-topic attack on OutRage!, and through them, on gays generally. I'm sure this is not Rebel W's intention, but there's still plenty of homophobic left-wingers and 'progressives' out there.

Thanks again!


Indpendent Left

Scary Men!

12.07.2004 10:28

F4J are really creepy IMHO. I've seen them in other forums denying that men are the main perpetrators of domestic violence.

They don't seemn too far removed from the psycho's who turn up braying on women's doors pissed up at 2am demanding to see their kids.

The fact is that the courts have given men who have molested and abused their kids access rights, and mothers quite rightly defy this. I'm not saying that all F4J members are violent or perverted, but I know personally of at least one of their vocal supporters who is a scary stalker and has held his kid hostage.

And why target the CofE? I wasn't aware that they had any say in custody matters.

Fuss Cat

why the CofE? because bullies love easy targets

13.07.2004 10:07

Each F4J 'action' strikes me a little more as a pre-adolescent tantrum. Family law is a complex business but these clowns just come across as spoilt men who've always got their way and can't stand anyone saying 'no' to them. And like any bullying brat, their response is to stomp about randomly smashing things up until someone gives them what they want. Watch out for their next heroic effort, occupying a day nursery or tipping over an ice cream van perhaps...

hacked off

Not *everyone* is against me...

20.07.2004 09:53

...but there are clearly a few misandrists in here. Isn't hate a terrible thing? It's not healthy, you know. I'm a white father (more underclass than middle-class these days). I was never a member of Fathers4Justice, although I am a father and I'm a pro-justice activist and attended a few of their meetings. I thought the Funpowder Plot was a step too far and have stepped away from the group since.

Nevertheless, I'm still vocally contemptuous of the Family Court system in the UK, having experienced it's misandrist agenda. They deny any gender bias, of course, but I'm confident that I couldn't have approached a judge with a pack of lies and obliged my daughter's mother to attend a hearing at three days notice where she would be told she had *no* rights, assumed to be guilty uintil proven innocent and then constrained by all the powers available under the children's act to protect children from monsters.

Ironically, I'd spent twelve years married to her dodging fists, feet, bottles and knives. But all she has to do is accuse and the 'we must protect the children' posse go off half-cocked. It seems a shame that women have to fight a war with children, but hatred can be a blinding emotion once it's been stirred up [Matt O'Conor, founder of F4J, recently debated on Women's Hour (BBC Radio4), pleading for an end to gender war if only for teh sake of the children - the woman opposing the motion didn't hesitate: "No. If women are to have more, it must be taken from men." For what it's worth, respect is not a finite resource and children are not property, nor do the disparate peoples of the world have to be at war. By the by, one of the reasons 'women are still paid less than men' is that many working women are just as disinclined as any woman to trust a man with their children - so they pay some other woman less than their own market value to mind their kids. Now one of the most important societal roles (raising new community members) is downgraded by men *and* women - that's progress for you! I'd do 100% of the childcare, given the chance, but unfortunately her mother's a misandrist]

I found this site by accident and probably won't come back to read the inevitable spew of misandrist anger and divisive righteousness, but don't let that stop you speaking *your* mind have a fundamental human right to hate anyone who's different to you, I'm sure - it's up there in the UN Declaration, along with my right to a family life. Isn't it?



23.01.2005 15:09

White Middle Class?? I am working class (at leaset from that background) and a single (enforced) parent and a victim (police attending) of Domestic Violence. I am slo a member of fathers-4-justice and, you guessed it, a man.

Try claiming council tax benefit or getting on the the council house list if you have ben forced from your home (and you are a man). There are no 'refuges' for us. As for the reports that we condone domestic abuse this is rubbish. We reject any notion of inequality or violence the difference is we reject it wen men are the victims as well.

Try not to read the Daily Mirror and comment on the real people behind the hard news headlines. Or talk to Journalists like myself who have been with the group sine iinception (when no one realised there was thousands of men coommitting suicide becasue there IS a conspiracy in the Family Law gravey train. its not anti women its just pro-equality.

Peter Tachell is also a hero and supporter of ours so get it right!

Garry Clarkson
mail e-mail: alliance@ntlworld.coom
- Homepage:

Write It
Publish your news

Do you need help with publishing?


The Common Place - Leeds The 1 in 12 club - Bradford The Trades Club - Hebden Bridge


South Coast

Other UK IMCs
Bristol/South West
Northern Indymedia


satellite tv


estrecho / madiaq
la plana
northern england
nottingham imc
united kingdom

Latin America
chile sur
cmi brasil
cmi sucre
puerto rico


South Asia

United States
hudson mohawk
kansas city
minneapolis/st. paul
new hampshire
new jersey
new mexico
new orleans
north carolina
north texas
rogue valley
saint louis
san diego
san francisco
san francisco bay area
santa barbara
santa cruz, ca
tampa bay
united states
western mass

West Asia


fbi/legal updates
mailing lists
process & imc docs