(JTA) — Stephen Sizer, a retired British vicar who once claimed Jews and Israel were behind 9/11, was banned from the Anglican ministry for 12 years on Monday.
Over the course of more than two decades as priest and academic in southern England, Sizer made a name for himself as an outspoken opponent of Christian Zionism, completing a Ph.D thesis and writing several books on the topic.
“It is irresponsible to believe that God will bless Christians materially if they support the largely secular State of Israel,” he wrote in his 2007 book “Zion’s Christian Soldiers.”
The British Jewish community welcomed the church tribunal’s decision.
“Given that he indulged in ‘antisemitic activity’ and caused grievous offence to the Jewish community over a number of years, this is the correct decision,” said Marie Van der Zyl, president of the Board of deputies of British Jews, which lodged the initial complaint against Sizer, in a statement. “I am grateful to the Tribunal for hearing our evidence and look forward to a continued strong and close relationship with the Church of England in the coming years.”
Sizer has admitted to having spoken at a 2008 conference alongside Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben and once wrote on Facebook that former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was a victim of “the hidden hands of Zionism.” The offense that led to his suspension involved posting a link on Facebook to an article titled “9/11/Israel did it” and later saying that the conspiracy theory should be “considered.”
Sizer’s ban is set to last until 2030 because he was initially suspended in 2018 after the complaints were filed and the 12-year ban announced Monday includes the time already served.
“It is clear that the behaviour of Stephen Sizer has undermined Christian-Jewish relations, giving encouragement to conspiracy theories and tropes that have no place in public Christian ministry and the church. I renew my call for the highest possible standards among ordained ministers of the Church of England in combating antisemitism of all kinds,” wrote the Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest Clerical official in the Anglican church since it split with the pope in the 16th century under Henry VIII, in a statement.