Sunday, 25 November 2012

Vicar is not anti-Semitic: Church Times

Originally published January 2012

The Church of England Newspaper picked up the story from the Jewish Chronicle last week about a single web link to an article I made back in October - one out of the hundreds of links posted last year on my blog and Facebook page.
An Anglican Vicar has sparked calls for his suspension after posting a link on his website to an anti-Semitic website.
On his Facebook page, the Rev Stephen Sizer linked to an article on the American website the Ugly Truth, which critics claim supports Holocaust denial and warns of a Zionist conspiracy to take over the world.

Mr Sizer this week dismissed the protests. “It is presumptuous to assume citing the source of an article means one endorses anything else on the website. Data mining is, however, a useful way of discrediting someone when you want to avoid addressing what they are actually saying,” he told us.

He added that he recently appeared on Revelation TV, which has a stated position of being pro-Zionist. “Does that therefore make me a Zionist?” he asked.

However, the inclusion of the link to the article sparked a protest with calls for his suspension. His Bishop, the Rt Rev Christopher Hill, said that Mr Sizer “repudiates anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.” He added that the article in question dealt with the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear weapons programme. The link has since been removed and the Bishop dismissed calls for any disciplinary action.

He said he could see nothing “which would merit disciplinary matters, not least because differing political opinions are definitely exempted from disciplinary proceedings in the Church of England”.

However, the Anglican Friends of Israel called for a full investigation. “The allegations against Mr Sizer, if substantiated, are potentially extremely damaging to Jewish-Christian relations and undermine the good work of church leaders to atone for historical institutional anti-Semitism."
Mr Sizer pointed out that in his book Zion’s Christian Soldiers, he argued: “Anti-Semitism must be repudiated unequivocally. However, we must not confuse apples and oranges. Anti-Zionism is not the same thing as anti-Semitism, despite attempts to broaden the definition.”
Source: The Church of England Newspaper

And posting this link to the Church of England Newspaper does not necessarily mean I support, approve, agree with, or endorse any other article in the said newspaper, its website, advertisers or blogs, any more than you would.

The same story appeared in the Church Times today, 13 January 2012 page 7.
Vicar ‘is not anti-Semitic’
The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, and his diocese have been forced to defend one of their clerics over allegations that he is an anti-Semite.
          The Revd Stephen Sizer, Vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, in Surrey, is well known for his opposition to Christian Zionism, but a recent link on his Facebook page, to a US website that ran a cartoon depicting Dracula as a Jew, has led to condemnation.
         Nick Howard, who works for the Association of Evangelists and is the son of the former Conservative Party leader Michael Howard, attacked Mr Sizer in a political blog, and called on Bishop Hill to discipline him.
         A statement from Bishop Hill and the diocese of Guildford said, however, that Mr Sizer had posted the link to one article on the US website, and had withdrawn it when he saw some of the other material on the site, which included a celebration of Holocaust-deniers. The statement said that Mr Sizer had “made it clear on many occasions that he repudiates racism, anti-Semitism and denial of the Holocaust”.
         In a response to Mr Howard, Bishop Hill said: “I see nothing which would merit  disciplinary matters, not least because differing political opinions are definitely exempted from disciplinary proceedings in the Church of England according to the Clergy Disciplinary Measure.”
         Mr Sizer, in his book Zion’s Christian Soldiers, wrote that he “repudiated unequivocally” anti-Semitism, and said: “Anti-Zionism is not the same thing as anti-Semitism despite attempts to broaden the definition. Criticising a political system as racist is not necessarily racist. Judaism is a religious system. Israel is a sovereign nation. Zionism is a political system.”
         The Jewish Chronicle is running a poll asking whether Mr Sizer should be sacked. By Wednesday, it had recorded 380 votes, 53 per cent of which were against his sacking.

How thoughtful of the Jewish Chronicle to poll readers on whether I should be sacked. Apparently a majority of Jewish Chronicle readers like me.

Yes 47% (189 votes)
No 53% (209 votes)
Total votes: 398

Writing to my Bishop a letter of complaint? Fair enough, although copying me in would have been polite. But instead, copying it to each of my 13 staff, not once but twice in a week? A little intimidating don't you think?