Will the Church of England Defrock Reverend Stephen Sizer?
Reverend Stephen Sizer, a Church of England vicar, has issued an apology after promoting an article on social media that claimed Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks, about which Sizer commented: “Is this anti-semitic? If so no doubt I’ll be asked to remove it. It raises so many questions.” Sizer published the post on Holocaust Memorial Day, sparking outrage from British Jewish groups.
On the face of it, this single distasteful action by a lowly vicar is not itself that newsworthy. But Stephen Sizer has a long history of promoting extreme anti-Jewish material and collaborating with foreign regimes and terror groups. The Church of England’s consistent failure to censure Sizer is certainly cause for alarm.
The blog Harry’s Place notes that Sizer currently presents a television discussion program on Al Etejah TV, an Iraqi television station with registered offices in London. The Arab Digest reports that Al Etejah is run by the Hezbollah Brigades, a pro-Iranian Shi’ite terror group in Iraq that is affiliated with the Lebanese Hezbollah. The Hezbollah Bridgades, according to the U.S. State Department, has carried out a number of murderous bombings and grenade attacks.
Sizer has also toured South Lebanon with Hezbollah; spoken at a regime-backed conference in Tehran alongside prominent Holocaust deniers; and, in 2014, he presented a tourism video for Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, despite the Syrian regime’s acts of mass-murder against its own people.
The Church of England, however, has repeatedly chosen to either look the other way. Following Sizer’s scandalous social media post on Holocaust Memorial Day, the Church of England published an “apology” by Sizer on its website, in which Sizer claimed: “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.”
This seems to be untrue. In 2004, Sizer published a book, in which one of his footnotes stated: “For allegations of Israeli complicity in 9/11, see ‘Five Israelis were seen filming as jet liners ploughed into the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001′, Sunday Herald, 2 November 2003.”
Sizer has long chosen to post extremist material, remove it only when challenged, and then publish similar extremist material a short time later. In 2011, for example, Sizer published a link to a website that alleged the West was in thrall to Jewish control. After months of complaints by the Jewish media and community organizations, Sizer eventually removed the post.
A few months later, however, Sizer then promoted the website Veterans Today, an extreme publication that also claims to “expose” Jewish control of America and Europe. Veterans Today articles have alleged, for instance, that the recent Paris attacks were a Mossad “false-flag” operation, and that Jewish greed brought about the rise of Hitler.
When British Jewish organizations have previously demanded the Church of England takes action against Sizer, the Church has nominally agreed, but has subsequently failed to act. In 2012, for instance, the Board of Deputies of British Jews lodged a formal complaint against Stephen Sizer under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, a piece of Church legislation backed by statutory approval.
The Board of Deputies argued that Sizer had made anti-Semitic statements and published links to anti-Semitic websites. After negotiations with the Church, the Board of Deputies and Sizer accepted a “conciliation agreement” that resolved Sizer would cease to post offensive material and would allow “three people…[to] read his website and blog in order to check their content and, in particular, monitor any links to websites.” Evidently, Stephen Sizer has not adhered to these rules.
The Board of Deputies is reportedly planning to lodge another official complaint against Sizer. The Church of England now has yet another opportunity to demonstrate that anti-Semitism is not tolerated within the clergy.
Church bishops often claim they possess a “moral obligation to speak up.” And in 2014, the Church voted to ban clergy from joining “far-right” organizations, or face being defrocked. A vicar who associates, then, with violent foreign regimes and terror groups, and posts anti-Jewish material, should evidently have no future within the Church.