One Sizer doesn't fit all


By jarkush
November 1, 2012
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Rev Stephen Sizer is the Vicar of Christ Church in Virginia Water, Surrey. He is now the subject of a complaint by the Board of Deputies to the Church of England, for making statements that the Board and most of the Jewish community find utterly offensive, to the point of crossing the line into antisemitism, even if this is neither his motivation nor intention. This is not all, as we also complain of Sizer posting links from his website to articles on racist and antisemitic websites where scurrilous views against Jews and others are published. When this happens, the Jewish community has to act.
Under Church law the Board’s complaint has to be brought under an Act of Parliament, the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003. The complaint is therefore for misconduct consisting of “conduct unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders”.
The complaint, which can be found at http://www.bod.org.uk/content/Complaint%20regarding%20Revd%20Stephen%20S... , includes detailed supporting evidence at http://www.bod.org.uk/content/Evidence%20in%20support%20of%20complaint%2... , an appendix of the offending material at http://www.bod.org.uk/content/StephenSizerComplaintAppendix.pdf and a statement made earlier this year by the Bishop of Manchester, the Chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews, in which Sizer’s delay in removing a link to an antisemitic website and the content he linked to was described as “disgraceful and unbecoming for a clergyman of the Church of England to promote” http://www.bod.org.uk/content/CCJ%20Statement.pdf .
On the subject of Sizer posting links to racist websites, the complaint says this:
"The matters complained of disclose a clear and consistent pattern of
activity on the part of Rev Sizer. The evidence indicates that he spends
time trawling dark and extreme corners of the internet for material to add
to his website. Rev Sizer re-publishes such items to support the target of
his polemical writing, while at the same introducing his readers to the
racist and antisemitic websites from where he draws his material. As the
evidence demonstrates, there are five instances of this over the 11 month
period from July 2011 to June 2012."
Thankfully for relations between British Jews and Christians, Rev Sizer is very much the exception. He displays an obsession with Israel and opposes its identity as a Jewish state. The Jewish people’s belief in national self-determination, or Zionism, is shared with most of the world’s nations – but Sizer displays a deep hostility to Zionism, which he writes about as if it was a term of abuse. It is not difficult to come across his views, as he is an enthusiastic self-publicist who proclaims his preoccupation with Israel on his website, blog, Facebook and flickr pages.
Considering his position as a Church of England vicar, Rev Sizer keeps some strange company. He has shared a platform with and quoted from Holocaust deniers, goes on trips to Iran as the guest of the NEDA Institute which contributes to global efforts to deny the Holocaust and gave an interview with Qods News Agency, a Holocaust denying website. Sizer is also a speaker at the provocatively named Christ at the Checkpoint conference, which features a theology called supersessionism which has antisemitic overtones. It seems that Rev Sizer has few qualms about keeping company with anyone who shares his hostility to Israel, however dubious.

We need to be clear about what it is we complain of. We make no complaint about Rev Sizer’s anti-Israel views, nor of his trips to Iran or his supersessionist theology. While we view all of these with concern and distaste, Rev Sizer is entitled to his views and may travel where he wants. But we draw the line at making statements that we regard as antisemitic and advertising the content of racist and antisemitic websites. It is a matter of great regret that we are driven to make this complaint, but the Jewish community should not have to stomach material that we see as crossing the line into antisemitism.
To anyone who asks what it is that we seek from the complaint, my answer is simple. If it is upheld, it will be a matter for the Church of England what action to take to address Rev Sizer’s conduct. But I can say that we are not seeking to have him stopped from his ministry or dismissed from his job. We only ask one thing, which is that effective measures are taken to prevent him from publishing or re-publishing material that we find to be not merely offensive, but antisemitic.
We don’t think that’s too much to ask.

This is a cross-post from the Board of Deputies website at http://www.bod.org.uk/content/CCJ%20Statement.pdf

COMMENTS

Jonathan Hoffman

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 17:52

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0 points

Great work. Except Liberal Rabbi Aaron Goldstein thinks you should be talking to Sizer ad infinitum.

I hope you get a better response than this whitewash which I received from Sizer's Archdeacon, Julian Henderson, Archdeacon of Dorking (22.10.11)

I am very aware of the differing points of view on this very sensitive subject and am sorry you feel offended by one of the clergy in this Diocese. Stephen Sizer holds a particular point of view and in the C of E there's a breadth of opinion allowed on controversial matters...I will remain vigilant on these issues. Differing points of view need to be expressed in a gracious manner".


joemillis1959

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 18:00

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Very good. I'm very glad to see the Board taking on Sizer.

However, I would have expected the Board officers to write to the Israeli ambassador expressing concern at least over the mistreatment of the women who prayed at the Western Wall. This is not just an internal Israeli affair; it is an issue that affects all Jews and has a deleterious affect on those trying to portray Israel as a beacon of democratic enlightenment in a sea of religious bigotry. After all Israel did pledge in its Declaration of Independence that it "will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture…"

If Jewish women had been arrested for praying in any other country, we would rightfully call it antisemitism.


Advis3r

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 09:13

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1 point

Every religious centre in the world has regulations for visitors and worshippers be it the Vatican, St Paul's Cathedral, the Regents park Mosque or the Western Wall. but of course only Millis would take the side of a self publicizing provocateur. Anat Hoffman is perfectly free to pray at the Western Wall together with the thousands of other women who regularly pray there but unlike her do so in accordance with the rules and regulations and with dignity and respect.
Contrary to what Millis says no one would have any sympathy for her if she performed her ridiculous antics at the Vatican and got arrested by the Swiss guards for her pains - it would be a complete embarrassment as are her antics at the Western Wall.


Ben F

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 10:37

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-1 points

"Except Liberal Rabbi Aaron Goldstein thinks you should be talking to Sizer ad infinitum."

Hoffman, you truly are an unpleasant piece of work. You get dumped by the ZF on account of your divisive and destructive behaviour. Rather than taking this as an opportunity for self-reflection, you carry on regardless.


Ben F

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 10:43

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-1 points

This initiative from the BOD would remain much more credible if you would just stay the hell out of it.


Real Real Zionist

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 10:47

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-1 points

Amazing, isn't he.


Banacek

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 13:34

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-2 points

"I hope you get a better response than this whitewash which I received"

This reeks of Hoffman. I wonder if the church authorities know where this is coming from and the motivations that underlie it?


zaheerayin

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 14:11

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-2 points

Good point.


happygoldfish

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 16:19

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2 points

Banacek: I wonder if the church authorities know where this is coming from and the motivations that underlie it?

zaheerayin: Good point .

so you and zaheerayin support stephen sizer's right to publicise racist websites from his own website, without complaint from jews?

and what "motivations" are you referring to? what jewish conspiracy do you see?


zaheerayin

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 16:47

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-2 points

Happygoldfish, this is the grownups' table.

If you see anything in what Banacek said, that is in any way supportive of Stephen Sizer or his activities, you are a more perceptive person than I.

Even more so if you see anything that hints at a conspiracy, Jewish or otherwise.

Does it not take more than one person to make a conspiracy?


zaheerayin

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 16:51

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0 points

.


zaheerayin

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 16:57

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I'm sorry. I don't know why the above posted 3 times.


Real Real Zionist

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 17:05

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happy you are turning into something akin to a nightmare, perhaps you should go lie down a while.


happygoldfish

Fri, 11/02/2012 - 17:29

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1 point

jarkush: Under Church law the Board’s complaint has to be brought under an Act of Parliament, the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003.

here's the relevant sections …
24 Types of penalty
(1)One or more of the following penalties may be imposed on a respondent upon a finding that he has committed any misconduct, namely—
(a) prohibition for life, that is to say prohibition without limit of time from exercising any of the functions of his Orders;
(b) limited prohibition, that is to say prohibition for a specific time from exercising any of the functions of his Orders;
(c) removal from office, that is to say, removal from any preferment which he then holds;
(d) in the case of a minister licensed to serve in a diocese by the bishop thereof, revocation of the licence;
(e) injunction, that is to say, an order to do or to refrain from doing a specified act;
(f) rebuke.

22 Disciplinary tribunals
(1)A disciplinary tribunal shall consist of five members as follows—
(a) the chairman, who shall be the president of tribunals or such other person as he may appoint as chairman from those nominated under section 21(2)(c) above to serve on the relevant provincial panel;
(b) two lay persons appointed by the president of tribunals from those nominated under section 21(2)(a) or (3)(a) above otherwise than by the bishop of the diocese concerned to serve on the relevant provincial panel; and
(c) two persons in Holy Orders appointed by the president of tribunals from those nominated under section 21(2)(b) or (3)(b) above otherwise than by the bishop of the diocese concerned to serve on the relevant provincial panel.


Troy

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 17:27

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0 points

How are you supposed to change someones point of view if you don't talk to them?


Real Real Zionist

Mon, 11/12/2012 - 12:56

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Troy you are a dangerous subversive 0:)


zaheerayin

Tue, 11/27/2012 - 17:30

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-2 points

"We only ask one thing, which is that effective measures are taken to prevent him from publishing or re-publishing material that WE find to be not merely offensive, but antisemitic."

I hope this was a joke. Given the entire background, the idea that this nonsense can hurt Stephen Sizer is absurd.


happygoldfish

Tue, 11/27/2012 - 18:00

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2 points

zaheerayin: I hope this was a joke. Given the entire background, the idea that this nonsense can hurt Stephen Sizer is absurd.

so you support stephen sizer's right to publicise racist websites from his own website, without complaint from jews?

the church of england takes the honesty and propriety of its vicars very seriously, and does not treat as a joke a complaint that a vicar has been "making statements that the Board and most of the Jewish community find utterly offensive, to the point of crossing the line into antisemitism"

do you not find sizer's statements "utterly offensive, to the point of crossing the line into antisemitism"?

or do you simply refuse to comment, preferring to pour scorn on the anti-racists who do take action?

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