Surrey vicar ordered to put a sock in it

Surrey vicar ordered to put a sock in it

Reverend Stephen Sizer, above, vicar at Christ Church in Virginia Water has been banned from using social media and commenting on Middle East issues for a six-month period after he posted a link to an Internet article blaming Israel for the September 11 terror attacks

Sizer, according to this report, used Facebook to promote the article entitled “9/11 Israel did it” and reportedly wrote:

Is this anti-Semitic? It raises so many questions.

Sizer’s post sparked an investigation by the Diocese of Guildford where he is licensed.

He later issued a statement through the diocese expressing regret and admitting that sharing the article was “ill-considered and misguided”.

The Right Reverend Andrew Watson, the newly-appointed Bishop of Guildford, told a press conference at Guildford that Sizer had agreed to a prohibition from using social media for six months and from commenting on Middle Eastern issues while he remains in the employment of the diocese.

It is my view that Stephen’s strong but increasingly undisciplined commitment to an anti-Zionist agenda has become a liability to his own ministry and that of the wider church.

Many who more moderately support the Palestinian cause and share his critique of a particular brand of Christian fundamentalism, themselves find Stephen’s actions to be increasingly unhelpful and counter-productive, a fact he himself now recognises.

It is therefore my decision that Stephen’s work in this area is no longer compatible with his ministry as a parish priest.

In order for Stephen to remain in parish ministry, I have therefore asked for and received from him a solemn undertaking, in writing, that he is to refrain entirely from writing or speaking on any themes that relate, either directly or indirectly, to the current situation in the Middle East or to its historical backdrop.

Should Stephen be deemed by the Diocese to have broken this agreement, in letter or in spirit, he has pledged to offer me his immediate resignation which I will duly accept.

He has also agreed to desist from the use of social media entirely for the next six months, after which he and I will review that prohibition.

Sizer was not at the press conference but a statement has been released on his behalf.

I very much regret and apologise for the distress caused by the sharing on Facebook of a link to an article about 9/11 from Wikispooks.

It was particularly insensitive in that last week coincided with Holocaust Memorial Day. I removed the link as soon as I received adverse feedback, and realised that offence had been caused. I have never believed Israel or any other country was complicit in the terrorist atrocity of 9/11, and my sharing of this material was ill-considered and misguided.

11 responses to “Surrey vicar ordered to put a sock in it”

  1. Daz says:

    I just had to look up Wikispooks, never having heard of it. Fuggin’ ‘ell! It’s whackaloon central.

    [Edit: And doh! Barry already linked it. Oh well.]

    I do kinda worry what the vicar chappy was doing linking it. Takin’ the piss or agreeing?

  2. Cali Ron says:

    Loose lips sink religious ships! Better toe the line or your get into heaven free pass will be revoked. God is apparently not a believer in free speech. Can’t be offending the jews or muslims, but atheists are godless so can be offended all they want. Pathetic, spineless lackeys for christianity.

    “I have never believed Israel or any other country was complicit in the terrorist atrocity of 9/11, and my sharing of this material was ill-considered and misguided.” Bin Laden was a Saudi and Al Qaeda has received millions of dollars from Saudi individuals (probably the government, too, but of course that’s unofficial and denied). But we must not offended the hand that oils!

  3. Broga says:

    The bollocking statement repays analysis: “increasingly unhelpful and counter-productive, a fact he himself now recognises.” He was also “misguided” and much else. The vicar now “recognises” his sin.

    My guess is that his new insight also came with being told that either he keeps his mouth shut, censors what his bosses don’t want him to say or he is out of a job. Does God offer any help on this? The clergy seem to have detailed knowledge of all kinds of matters on which God has a view. However, where the vicar and the church top cats disagree then God is silent. Or what about the bible? Anything in there?

  4. cnocspeireag says:

    Many C of E vicars had remarkable security of tenure and basically couldn’t be sacked unless they agreed to go. If Sizer is one of these, then his letter can only be a most sincere apology. If he’s on some new form of contract, then Broga’s comments are apposite.

  5. Trevor Blake says:

    It’s as if the delivery of religion was a quantifiable commodity that could be controlled with a valve. Religion does no good but claims all good done by medicine, donations, etc. Were the lot of them to take up honest work (or even honest leisure) out of shame the world would prosper.

  6. Maggie says:

    What I dislike is how any disagreement about the Israeli government’s policies brings on cries of ‘anti-semitism’.

    Remark: I don’t like what the Israeli government’s has done about bin collections.

    Response: Anti-semite!

    It plays into the US’s foreign policy of Israel can do no wrong, and its eternally policy of hypocrisy of do as we say not as we do. Sod that! I separate the actions and deeds of Jews from that of the Israeli government, bin collections and all.

  7. barriejohn says:

    Well, the Jews might not have actually been behind “9/11”, but their god certainly was:

    According to “Messianic Jewish Rabbi ” Pastor Jonathan Cahn, 2001 was a Shemitah, and, guess what – 2015 is as well! Just buy his books and dvds to find out more about the imminent judgment (upon the USA, of course, as all OT prophecies obviously refer to a nation which was not even in existence at the time, in a land of which the Hebrew prophets were entirely ignorant!).

  8. barriejohn says:

    More about Cahn here:

    His teachings are broadcast daily over hundreds of radio stations throughout the United States and the world and on television. He ministers, as did the first Jewish messengers of the Gospel, sharing the message of Messiah to Jew and Gentile, Israel, and the nations. He has ministered before mass gatherings in India, Nigeria, Cuba, Mizoram, Honduras, Haiti, & throughout the world. His teachings are widely known for revealing the deep mysteries of God’s word and for the restoring of the new covenant message to its original biblically Jewish richness and power.

    God help us!

  9. Cali Ron says:

    US evangelicals are obsessed with Israel-their waiting for them to rebuild the temple and bring the apocalypse. Ironically, they hate them for killing their god jesus (which is itself an oxymoron), but need them to fulfill the prophecy so they can “walk the streets of gold” (because you can’t get any traction in a car with gold streets). Of course, Jews don’t believe in christ, the saviour so they will all be sent to hell, so let’s spend billions of dollars helping to keep them alive so god can kill them and send them all to eternal damnation. I guess that’s what the saying “love you to death” means. Can you feel the love?

  10. Cali Ron says:

    @ barriejohn:
    God had better help himself first. Like Ian Anderson wrote:
    If Jesus saves — well, He’d better save Himself
    from the gory glory seekers who use His name in death.
    Oh Jesus save me!
    I saw him in the city and on the mountains of the moon —
    His cross was rather bloody —
    He could hardly roll His stone.
    Oh Jesus save me!
    (Hymn 43, Jethro Tull)

    OT-Love that old British prog rock!

  11. Robster says:

    Who’d have thought it possible, a vicar saying something silly.