‘Antisemite’ vicar in Board of Deputies complaint

By Marcus Dysch, November 1, 2012
The Board accuses Rev Stephen Sizer, pictured, of conduct unbecoming to a vicar

The Board accuses Rev Stephen Sizer, pictured, of conduct unbecoming to a vicar

The Board of Deputies has made an unprecedented formal complaint to the Church of England over the conduct of a controversial Anglican vicar.

Reverend Stephen Sizer is accused by the Board of “conduct unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders”.

It is understood the complaint will trigger action under the clergy disciplinary process set out by Parliament.

A dossier of evidence charts what the Board says is antisemitic material which Rev Sizer has posted online or passed to contacts in the last two-and-a-half years.

The claims are being investigated by the Bishop of Guildford, the Right Reverend Christopher Hill. Rev Sizer is senior pastor of the Anglican Christ Church in Virginia Water, Surrey, which is in Rev Hill’s diocese.

The Community Security Trust and Jewish Leadership Council have backed the Board’s complaint, put together following legal advice on canon law.

Board president Vivian Wineman said: “Making such a complaint about a Church of England minister is not a step the Board has taken lightly.

“This action sends a clear, strong message from our community that we will not remain quiet in the face of actions and remarks capable of being seen as antisemitic even where they are disguised as anti-Zionist attacks on Israel.”

Rev Sizer was travelling in the Middle East this week and could not be contacted to respond to the allegations against him before the JC went to press.

He has repeatedly denied accusations of antisemitism. He has twice been forced to alter his website after linking to sites which promote Holocaust denial and Zionist conspiracy theories.

Earlier this year police were called in to investigate a link which he posted following a complaint from the Council of Christians and Jews. No action was taken against Rev Sizer.

The Church of Scotland has meanwhile stood by plans for Rev Sizer to speak at a conference it is co-organising on Friday, after a separate complaint from the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (ScoJeC).

Rev Sizer is due to discuss the roots of Christian Zionism at the Balfour Project conference at Edinburgh’s Quaker Meeting House.

The event marks the 95th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.

SCoJeC wrote to the Church of Scotland last week claiming allowing Rev Sizer to speak “would be perceived as highly offensive throughout the Jewish community”.

Ephraim Borowski, SCoJeC director, claimed that Rev Sizer had had repeated invited accusations of “Holocaust denial, right-wing extremism, and unabashed antisemitism”.

But Rev John Chalmers, principal clerk of the Church of Scotland, said: “We agree that antisemitism must be confronted. However we believe that SCoJeC are misguided in their allegations about Rev Sizer”.

Last updated: 12:39pm, November 1 2012