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Bishop bans vicar from social media over 'racist' post

by Desmond Busteed

Rt Revd Andrew Watson has said Revd Stephen Sizer who serves at Christ Church, in Virginia Water, Surrey, will now step back from all writing, speaking, blogging and social media on the Middle East for the next six months after he demonstrated "appallingly poor judgment".

The Bishop of Guildford, the Right Revd Andrew Watson said: "By associating with or promoting subject matter, which is either ambiguous in its motivation, or (worse still) openly racist, he has crossed a serious line. I regard these actions as indefensible.

"I have welcomed Stephen's apology, his recognition of the deep hurt caused by his actions, his acknowledgement of the gross insensitivity of their timing just prior to Holocaust Memorial Day, and his retraction of the ridiculous suggestion that Israel may have been complicit in the events of 9/11. I have also recognized that much of Stephen's ministry in other areas and at other times has been good, wise and wholesome.

Bishop Andrew believes Revd Sizer's "increasingly undisciplined" commitment to an anti-Zionist agenda has become a "liability" to his own ministry and that of the wider church.

However, the Bishop said he had now received a "solemn undertaking" in writing, that he is to "refrain entirely" from writing or speaking on any theme that relates, either directly or indirectly, to the current situation in the Middle East or to its historical backdrop.

If Revd Sizer is deemed by the Diocese to have broken the agreement, in letter or in spirit, he has pledged to offer his immediate resignation, which Bishop Andrew has said he will accept.

He has also agreed to desist from the use of social media entirely for the next six months, after which the Bishop will review the "prohibition".

The Bishop has also expressed his sorrow for the "hurt" caused to members of the Jewish Community.

The September 11 attacks were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda on the United States in New York City and the Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001.

The attacks killed 2,996 people.

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