The Board bottles out: A vendetta too far
If things were as they should be, the courage of Stephen Sizer in facing down the Board of Deputies would be a wake up call to the Churches and other Christian organisations in the UK, and inspire them to find some back bone vis-a-vis the bullying and blackmail they face from the Board in its attempt to harass them into getting into line with the “correct“ attitude to The State of Israel.
Our advice is not to hold your breath.
Stephen Sizer is vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water in the Diocese of Guildford. He has been the subject of a whole series of overlapping vendettas over a period of years, almost unimaginable in their width, length, depth and intensity. Willing participants have included Zionist lunatic fringers, Christian Zionist crazies, Messianic Jews and latterly, some mainstream Jewish and “Christian” organisations that you might have hoped would be above such nonsense. These vendettas culminated in October last, with a formal complaint by the Board of Deputies to the Bishop of Guildford, Christopher Hill. This was not a mere whinge and whine, but a formal charge under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, established by Act of Parliament and enshrined as part of Church Law. Failing all else, the issue could ultimately have been decided at an Ecclesiastical Tribunal hearing where the range of penalties is wide, including loss of ministry, job and home.
This course of action was undertaken by the Board in the aftermath of their disastrous attempt, in tandem with the execrable Council of “Christians” and Jews, and guided by Nick Howard (the off the wall son of the ex-Home Secretary Michael Howard), to have the police prosecute Revd. Sizer for stirring up racial hatred. See here.
It almost beggars belief how much time and energy the Board have invested in the persecution of one Anglican priest. It can only be understood in the context of the Board’s overall strategy in respect of the Christian churches.
Many Christians are becoming increasingly uneasy about the brutality and inhumanity of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the accelerating expropriation and colonisation of Palestinian land. This behaviour is being ever more widely recognised as the cynical larceny that it is, and the threat to stability and peace in the region, and ultimately in the world, that it represents..
The Board, despite facing an uncertain future as the junior partner when the JLC takeover is complete, regards it as its job to counteract these changing perceptions. The problem, as they see it, is that these winds of change have begun to impact on the churches’ policies towards Israel.
The strategy is to bully and blackmail the Churches into adopting the “correct“ attitude to the State of Israel. Essentially, they weep and wail and threaten whenever a Christian organisation crosses their line in criticism of Israel, implicitly or explicitly accusing the church of anti-Semitism. The “hurt, pain and grief” of the “Jewish community” is emphasised and the “interfaith relations“ blackmail card is played for all it is worth.
The Church leaders, after being softened up by a stream of intemperate abuse in the press and blogosphere are then seduced by oily, sanctimonious, and insincere talk of dialogue, joint peace promoting initiatives, and a search for “understanding”. By and large, they fall for it. Ideally the Board would like to change the past. Failing that ,they seek to mould the present. Failing that, they seek to shape the future. All the sorrow, seeking of dialogue and understanding and in particular, joint enterprises, are designed to put the churches into a straight-jacket, and to make it as emotionally difficult as possible for the churches to do anything in the future that might cause the Board of Deputies “ pain “. In this way, for example, the Methodists, not so long ago the most unconscionable scum bags, are now “colleagues”.
For the Board, it is not about interfaith relations for its own sake, but an exercise in imposing a political agenda on the churches.The Board of Deputies are not the leaders of a faith group but are, as the Board treasurer Laurence Brass (a rare sane voice in the organisation) ruefully acknowledges, “an extension of the Israeli embassy”.
Central to the Board strategy, is the recruiting of Christian Zionist allies and the bolstering and promoting of Christian Zionist forces in the churches. The Board is of the view (or purports to be) that only Christian Zionists are true Christians. It advertises the perspective that….
“Christian support for Israel is rooted in biblical sources”
“You cannot be a genuine Christian believer while acting against the Jewish people.” (ie: if you are a critic of the State of Israel).
“Israel” and “the Jewish people” are one and the same thing when it suits, and equating Israel with the Jewish people is anti-Semitic when it does not suit.
These efforts have met with considerable success, but there is still much to play for. In this context, one Revd. Stephen Robert Sizer, represents a formidable counter-force. Revd. Sizer is a consistent, persistent and compelling critic of the policies of The State of Israel. His perspective is grounded in his theology and the simple humanity of a man that works tirelessly for the good of ALL the people of the region. It is worth reminding ourselves that the idea of “ the well being of all the people of the region“ is unacceptabl to the Board, and that this idea has been specifically rejected by them…Board plenary January 19th, 2011.
Revd. Sizer is the most eloquent, and persuasive critic of the highly dangerous basket of dogma we know as Christian Zionism, certainly in the UK, and is of global importance in this respect.
Someone, somewhere decided that Sizer must be silenced.
In addition, a secondary objective was to intimidate the Church of England. The Church is accused of harbouring and failing to act against racists in its midst, and is told it “must do something about Sizer“. The charge of anti-Semitism is, of course, ludicrous in the extreme, as attested to by the numerous declarations of support he has received from prominent Christians and Jews world wide. Most sickeningly in making such a charge, the Board hypocritically and cheerfully ignores the planks in its own eye. See here.
The Board set out on this course brim-full of confidence. It is impossible to over-emphasise the narcissism prevalent among them. This was, of course, prior to the FUCU disaster that they are still reeling from, and before serious light had been thrown on their activities and modus operandi. They also failed to factor in the resolve and steadfastness of Stephen Sizer and, to some extent, that of the Diocese of Guildford. This was something new to them and in marked contrast to the timid acquiescence of certain other Christian “leaders“ they have gotten used to pushing around.
They felt sure that a fearful Diocese would settle for peace and quiet, and “discipline” him. Failing that, they felt sure that a mixture of fear and stress, would cause him to quickly fold. Failing that, they felt sure that financial pressure would be crucial. This has gone on for an entire year and the legal costs that a parish vicar has been forced to incur must have run into a good few thousands. This, to be funded from a famously unextravagant Church of England stipend. The Board, of course, are smugly carefree in this respect, backed as they are by the Jewish Leadership Council’s multi-millions.
In the event, the Diocese sent the complaint to a conciliation process, in accordance with options laid out by the regulations governing C of E clergy discipline. This is a clear indication that the Diocese regarded the complaint as having little or no merit. See para 127 of the Clergy Discipline Measure.
This process went on for five months until the Board finally folded. They seem to have realised that they had much more to fear from the failure of conciliation than Revd. Sizer. By this time, after a long period of denial, they seem to have accepted the weakness of their case, and that if it went to tribunal, their own behaviour, that of the CCJ , and that of the JLC (headed as it was, by the notorious perjurer, Jeremy Newmark) would be front line issues. In other words, it was not unlikely that it would be they and not Revd. Sizer, who would find themselves on trial.
The charge was “conduct unbecoming or inappropriate to a clerk in Holy Orders”.
Now, this is as bad as it gets. No priest could survive such a conviction or admission. It would be the end of his/her ministry and so devastating that he/she would never be taken seriously again, by anyone, anywhere. Obviously, an agreement that included such an admission was necessary for the Board in order to justify all the time, money and effort. It has been clear from outset that it was essential to the Board that any agreement included either the word “ unbecoming “ or the word “inappropriate” in respect of Revd, Sizer’s conduct, and that he was in some way disciplined by the Church.
Well, the Diocese obviously has always been of the view that the charge was without merit and was mendacious and political. As the Bishop of Guildford has pointed out to them, political views are definitely exempted from the clergy discipline provisions, adding that Revd Sizer repudiates anti-Semitism. The Diocese has expressed the view that it regards the criticism of Revd Sizer as “a form of political campaign against him”. The Lambeth Palace inter-faith adviser, Toby Howarth, is on record as stating that Revd Sizer is not anti-semitic.
So the idea that the Church would discipline Revd. Sizer makes sense only in their muddled narcissistic minds.
As for the conciliation agreement wording, what they got was not “unbecoming“ or “inappropriate“ but a mere acknowledgment by Revd. Sizer, that in the midst of a lifetime of work, research, writing and ministry, on a number of occasions (countable on one hand) he should have been more reflective.
It is hard to judge how much reflection it would have taken to foresee the wholly intemperate, over the top, disproportionately hysterical reaction of The Board, complete with manufactured hurt, feigned indignation and a detachment from reality as experienced by regular people.
The absurdity of the entire business is difficult to grasp. The absurdity is so absurd, that regular people, unable to find a place for it in their mental framework, find it elusive. One occasion when Revd. Sizer should have been more reflective, pertains to his linking to an unobjectionable article on one particular site. This article discussed the available window for an Israeli attack on Iran. He might have linked to an article by Uri Avnery, written for and published by the self same site. Many people did so, including many of those critical of Revd. Sizer. In the muddled minds of the Board, all of these people, and Avnery himself are anti–Semitic !!!!!
So, at the end of the melodrama, we have a mega climb-down by the Board, and another U- turn. Every U-turn by the Board is, to quote The Jewish News, the U-turn to end all U-turns. If only it were so, and they would learn something from it. This seems unlikely, while they allow Jonathan Arkush to run around unsupervised, and lead them into one Stalingrad after another. Arkush has turned blundering from disaster to disaster and grovelling apologies into a lifestyle. On such occasions, he is apt to explain that he had been “unwell“. See here.
At the Board plenary on Sunday, 20th October, the Sizer issue was mentioned. Arkush, looking decidedly unwell again, assured deputies that he was sure they would see the outcome as “positive and good“ for the Board. The desperation was written all over his face.
For the rest of us and particularly for the churches, the lesson is that there is no need to fear the big bad Board. If one man, vulnerable except for his faith, courage and commitment to his calling, can face them down, why can’t we and YOU?
It merely needs to be recognised that among the Board illuminati, being bullies is the active ingredient in their characters. Bullies are bluffers, it merely is a case of calling the bluff.
For the true nature and characters of those leading the vendetta against Stephen Sizer, see here.
On how the Quakers are being harassed and intimidated over EAPPI, see here.
The assault on the Church of Scotland is a work in progress.