The Diocese of Guildford of the Church of England ruled this week that a controversial vicar, Dr. Stephen Sizer, had in his “undisciplined commitment to an anti-Zionist agenda” crossed the line into anti-Semitism by promoting conspiracy theories against the Jews.
Late last month, just around the time of International Holocaust Memorial Day, Sizer posted to Facebook a link to an article titled “9/11 Israel did it.” In text accompanying the link, Sizer wondered, “Is this anti-Semitic?” Whether or not it is didn’t seem to matter to Sizer, in whose mind the link in question “raises so many questions.”
Sizer has a long history of antagonism toward Israel, from targeting Christian support for the Jewish state to cozying up to the mullahs of Iran.
Joining himself to the ranks of what the Americans call “truthers” - those who insist that the truth has been concealed regarding who was behind the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and especially suggesting the Jews did it - was one jab too many.
In his official statement, the Bishop of Guildford, the Right Revd Andrew Watson, said that he did “not believe that [Sizer’s] motives are anti-Semitic; but I have concluded that, at the very least, he has demonstrated appallingly poor judgment in the material he has chosen to disseminate…some of which is clearly anti-Semitic.”
Bishop Watson and other officials in the diocese ultimately determined that Sizer’s “increasingly undisciplined commitment to an anti-Zionist agenda has become a liability to his own ministry and that of the wider church,” and that “Stephen’s work in this area is no longer compatible with his ministry as a parish priest.”
The Church of England decided to let Sizer remain pastor of Christ Church, Virginia Water, in Surrey, England on condition that he never again publicly address any issue related to the Middle East in general, and Israel in particular.
In other words, Stephen Sizer should never again be heard from regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or Christian support for the Jewish state, otherwise known as Christian Zionism.