Church of England lay minister steps back from role after comments about Jews

Diocese vows to undertake 'an urgent and thorough investigation'


A Church of England lay minister has stood down from his role after writing on Facebook that "Jews" want to keep Labour out of office because it "may not kowtow to their every wish".

Dr Robin Rowles was writing on the Friends of Jeremy Corbyn Facebook group in response to a news article about Labour MPs' challenge to the Labour leader over Jew-hate in the party, as they prepare to debate an 11-point motion on the matter on Monday night.

He wrote: "They’ll vote out Corbyn as leader so that they will lose the next elections, which is what the Jews want...

"The last thing the Jews apparently want is a party in power that may not kowtow to their every wish.”

He later wrote that he had been banned from the Facebook group, saying: "Teehee!!! I think I've found the root cause of the claims of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

"I've been banned from a left-wing, Corbyn supporting, Facebook group for being anti-Semitic. On querying the ban, I further discovered that to say that 'the Jews arrested Jesus and arranged for him to be killed' is being anti-Semitic!

"That's going to ruin a few Passiontide sermons."

He then denied he was antisemitic, writing: "As a Christian I love all God's creatures and I try my best to see good in all people."

A spokesperson for the diocese said it "finds all forms of antisemitism repugnant and unacceptable".

They added: "The bishops of the Church of England accepted in full the IHRA definition of antisemitism last year.

"Dr Robin Rowles is a Church of England Lay Minister (Reader) in the Diocese of St Albans. Readers are not employed.

"Following recent posts on social media, he was immediately asked to step back from his role as a minister while an urgent and thorough investigation takes place."

The Board of Deputies called Dr Rowles' comments "despicable" and said he "ought to be ashamed of himself".

“We trust that a swift and firm disciplinary process will ensue," they added.

Stephen Hoffman, who first reported Dr Rowles' comments to the diocese, told the JC he was "shocked, saddened and angry".

He added : "I have become far too accustomed to coming across antisemitism, but not often as blatant as that.

"I am glad St Albans Diocese acted so quickly on this matter, showing a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism, which other organisations could learn lessons from." 

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