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
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.