Thursday, 29 November 2012

Church of England Newspaper: Sizer Complaint

Sizer Complaint

Sir,

I was surprised and disappointed to read your article about Rev Dr Stephen Sizer ("Board of Deputies in Sizer complaint", 25 November). Surprised because when I have contacted both the Board of Deputies and the Bishop of Guildford to express my support for Dr Sizer, I have received standard replies to the effect that the matter, being the subject of a legal process under the Clergy Discipline Measure, is sub judice and cannot be discussed.

This is understandable, so why does the Vice President of the Board of Deputies blog about the CDM complaint on the Board's website, accusing Dr Sizer of anti-Semitism and of "trawling dark and extreme corners of the internet for material to add to his website"? These comments, which your article uncritically republishes, will surely have the effect of prejudicing any eventual disciplinary tribunal?

The Vice President of the Board of Deputies is a barrister, so his undermining of the very legal process which he initiated is all the more baffling.

I was disappointed by the article because there was no opportunity (given the legal process) for Dr Sizer to defend himself against the public accusation of anti-Semitism. These accusations have been made before, by the Council of Christians and Jews and others, and have been found to have no substance. The reform rabbi and theologian Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, an expert on anti-Semitism, wrote to Dr Sizer's bishop back in March stating that accusations of anti-Semitism against Sizer were "completely without foundation". Stephen is a strident critic of Christian Zionism, and of Israeli policy, but this does not make him anti-Semitic. Indeed, in his book "Zion's Christian Soldiers", a seminal text for those who want to understand an evangelical critique of Christian Zionism, Sizer states that "Anti-Semitism must be repudiated unequivocally".

Dr Sizer's is a prophetic voice on the issue of Christian Zionism yet he has been the subject of repeated vilification and ad hominem attacks from institutions who should know better. There is not a shred of evidence to back up accusations of anti-Semitism, so surely enough is enough?

Jeremy Moodey
Chief Executive - Embrace the Middle East
Amersham, Bucks

Letter published in the Church of England Newspaper, 29th November 2012