A diocese of the Church of England has officially banned a pastor from using social media and from speaking about Middle Eastern affairs following controversy over an article link he posted on Facebook titled "9/11 Israel did it" that blames the Jewish state for the 9/11 attacks.
The Diocese of Guildford launched an inquiry into the matter after the Rev. Stephen Sizer published the post, with the the Right Rev. Andrew Watson, the local bishop, determining that the preacher's "anti-Zionist agenda has become a liability," according to the BBC.
Sizer, who works at Christ Church in Virginia Water, Surrey, United Kingdom, reportedly included the words "it raises many questions" along with the controversial link pinning the terrorist attack on Israel, the outlet reported.
While Sizer later removed the posting and released a statement through the Diocese of Guildford late last month apologizing for his actions, controversy has continued.
"I very much regret and apologize for the distress caused by the sharing on Facebook of a link to an article about 9/11 from Wikispooks," he said, noting the poor timing of the posting. "It was particularly insensitive in that last week coincided with Holocaust Memorial Day. I removed the link as soon as I received adverse feedback, and realized that offense had been caused."
He added, "I have never believed Israel or any other country was complicit in the terrorist atrocity of 9/11, and my sharing of this material was ill-considered and misguided."
Watson said at a press conference Monday that, though he believes Sizer isn't motivated by anti-Semitism, the priest has "demonstrated appallingly poor judgment in the material he has chosen to disseminate."
"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," he said. "I regard these actions as indefensible."
Watson went on to say that Sizer will not be using social media for at least the next six months and that he will not speak about any theme related to the current situation in the Middle East — or any of the history leading up to the ongoing clash between Palestine and Israel.
"Should Stephen be deemed by the Diocese to have broken this agreement, in letter or in spirit, he has pledged to offer me his immediate resignation, which I will duly accept," he continued. "He has also agreed to desist from the use of social media entirely for the next six months, after which he and I will review that prohibition."