UK Islamic group accuses Church of England of a ‘witchhunt’ against banned priest Dr Stephen Sizer

The action against Sizer, a conservative evangelical, received the full support of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, but has been slammed by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), which accused the C of E of a “witchhunt.”

According to the BBC in December Sizer—vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, Surrey, for 20 years, until his retirement in 2017—was found by a church tribunal to have engaged in conduct “unbecoming to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders” and details of the ban were published on January 30.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said his behaviour had given “encouragement to conspiracy theories and tropes”.

Ahead of his ban, the IHRC said last May:

As a lifelong campaigner for Palestinian rights and other anti-racist causes we consider the case against him to be perverse and another example of the weaponisation of anti-Semitism to silence critics of Israel.

That the source of the complaint is The Board of Deputies of British Jews, which claims to represent British Jewry but in reality serves as a mouthpiece for the Israeli state, says everything one needs to know about the credibility of the accusations against him.

The ban, which includes the time he has already served since the complaint was brought in 2018, will last until December 2030.

It means Sizer cannot fulfil any priestly roles, such as taking communion or marriage services, until he has served his sentence.

The Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the Diocese of Winchester ruled that he had “provoked and offended the Jewish community” and “engaged in anti-semitic activity”.

Image via YouTube

The case had been brought by the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, above, who cited 11 examples of Sizer’s anti-semitism between 2005 and 2018.

The tribunal upheld the complaint in four instances, including one example from 2015 where Sizer shared an article promoting the idea that Israel was behind the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001.

On another occasion Sizer posted a link on his website in September 2010 to an article titled “9/11 The Mother of All Coincidences”.

Van der Zyl said she was “pleased” with the “unambiguous statement in banning Stephen Sizer from being able to act as a Clerk in Holy Orders for 12 years.

Given that he indulged in ‘antisemitic activity’ and caused grievous offence to the Jewish community over a number of years, this is the correct decision.

I am grateful to the Tribunal for hearing our evidence and look forward to a continued strong and close relationship with the Church of England in the coming years.

Welby added:

It’s clear that the behaviour of Stephen Sizer has undermined Christian-Jewish relations, giving encouragement to conspiracy theories and tropes that have no place in public Christian ministry and the church.

I renew my call for the highest possible standards among ordained ministers of the Church of England in combatting antisemitism of all kinds.

The IHRC, on the other hand, described the ban as “repulsive.”

It is a matter of shame that the Church of England is not only failing in its moral duty to oppose apartheid but is actively persecuting those within its own house who do so.

Like many others we find it repulsive that the Church of England is using the stick of anti-Semitism to beat Dr. Sizer for speaking out against Israeli injustices when in fact it should be reflecting on its own role in perpetuating Palestinian suffering.

We stand alongside Dr. Sizer in his hour of need.

Wikipedia reveals that Sizer—known for his opposition to Christian Zionism—was accused in 2012 of posting a link from his Facebook profile to an article on an anti-Jewish American site espousing Holocaust denial called “The Ugly Truth”.

It featured cartoons celebrating Holocaust deniers and stated that Israel was responsible for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sizer deleted the link in January 2012 after The Jewish Chronicle pointed out the link to him around two months after he had first been informed of the problem.

In 2015 the IHRC announced that it was ending its participation in UK anti-terror laws consultations.

Image via YouTube

Spokesperson for IHRC, Arzu Merali, above, said:

The anti-terrorism laws have served only to create a sub-par legal regime without due process that targets Muslims. It also demonises Muslims further, causing backlash and discrimination.

Off the back of these processes, we find the UK turning into a police state with little protest. We must stop this slide into authoritarianism.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

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If you spot any typos in this piece, please email me at freethinkered@a

2 responses to “UK Islamic group accuses Church of England of a ‘witchhunt’ against banned priest Dr Stephen Sizer”

  1. Is there any point to the Archbishop of Canterbury? He has a prominent position, he is listened to (unfortunately sometimes) and he avoids bold leadership on contentious issues. The following rings true:

    ” the Church of England is using the stick of anti-Semitism to beat Dr. Sizer for speaking out against Israeli injustices when in fact it should be reflecting on its own role in perpetuating Palestinian suffering.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Israeli injustices!

    Everywhere that Israeli troops go in their country (recognised by the UN and most other democratic countries), they encounter Palestinians, armed and preparing bombs or home-made missiles launched to randomly kill Israelis.
    The only democratic country in the Middle East is surrounded by hostile, dysfunctional Islamic ‘paradises’ ruled by dictators and with zero suffrage.

    The Palestinians have always had leaders who support terrorism, with the latest incarnation, Abbas, hiding away in the UAE. Time and again, the Palestinians have accepted accords to legitimise Palestinian territory within Israel, only to make more demands so that the accords have not been implemented.

    The terrorists who have been responsible for indiscriminate suicide bombings have been lionised by by Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Jordan; I have had to visit all of these rotten-to-the-core countries, I despair for the future of Israelis, I despise their religion, however, I would fight for them to live in peace.


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