Category Archives: Church of England

Should you take the “Jesus Radicals” with a pinch of salt?

Please read this comment from a prominent Jesus Radicals member before proceeding with the whole article. Jesus Radicals were unaware of Fleming’s activities with Tobin and Piper.

Here it is reproduced in full:

Hi,

I am one of the main people behind the Jesus Radicals website. We do not promote, teach, endorse or in any way link up with the ideas of holocaust deniers or anti-Semitism. You are absolutely correct to point out the influence of Jacques Ellul, whose writings continue to inspire many of us. John Howard Yoder is also a major influence. His book, The Christian/Jewish Schism Revisited, which laments the early split between Jewish Christians and other Jews, is another influence.

I was not involved in organizing the 2009 conference, but I am certain that the organizers were not aware of the things you pointed out about Eileen Fleming. From what I saw of her there, she did not say anything that denied the Holocaust, but her presentation was not well received and seemed to lack the sensitivity required to talk about race, ethnicity and class. She is not really an anarchist to be honest.

Here’s the original post; my concern about Fleming is expressed in the last four paragraphs.

Barthsnotes has a post providing more information about recent events at Gloucester Cathedral. As well as discussing Israeli preacher David Silver’s religious views, as does a commenter, Bartholomew also highlights that Hebden holds to Christian anarchist beliefs.

Keith Hebden is the editor of the Christian anarchist blog A Pinch of Salt. Hebden himself interestingly links to the story reported on This is Gloucester of his arrest and subsequent release without charge. Just as I was thinking that it seems rather odd to draw attention to ones’ own arrest without providing any further comment, I read a bizarre sentence on his blog in reaction to the arrest of CPT activists in Sweden.

Hebden wrote:
 

Whatever we do in the courtroom, or upon arrest, we are generating stories – like the prophets – that go beyond the actions we perform and take on a life of their own.

Whilst I’m of the opinion that getting arrested in order to generate stories is not the best way to get one’s message across, I can accept that this is Hebden’s position. However I wonder whether this affected Hebden’s decision to interrupt the service at Gloucester Cathedral. According to one eye-witness account:

The evening meeting was a worship service held in the actual cathedral (the nave, to be precise) and it was this that Rev Hebden disrupted in the manner described. At the point he made his protest, David Silver hadn’t even been invited to take the platform!

One also wonders whether Hebden’s calls for a boycott of Israel had anything to do with his opposition to Silver, an Israeli pastor, being allowed to preach in the Gloucester Cathedral. Hebden promotes this image on his blog and on his facebook profile:

 [boycott+zionist+goods.jpg]

For those unaware of the UK Jesus Radicals, Hebden’s religious and political views are of notable interest. Hebden has previously suggested that ‘Perhaps, in Britain, the Christian symbol of the cross should be replaced by the splintered skull. Why not, if the MPs insist on reminding us daily of their privileged use of the skull-smasher?’ Hebden has also cited recent protests and violence in Nepal as evidence that ‘There’s no such thing as a complete revolution, a utopian end-point.’

Keith Hebden’s Pinch of Salt blog has published an article by blog contributor “AdR”, accusing Israelis of ‘blackmailing’ the pope over his Nazi background, whilst drawing attention to Israeli gas companies whose global bodies profited from selling gas for gas chambers to the Nazis. This appears to me an unfair and insensitive reaction to the Israeli complaints about the Pope’s words over the Holocaust. 

Hebden himself has described the story of two women who broke into a politician’s home as ‘beautiful’, as the politician had excessive expense claims. Hebden commented:

“So why aren’t Christians doing this kind of thing? Some are but few; most of us are just looking on in awe and a certain amount of trepidation.”

Aside from the Pinch of Salt blog, Hebden is involved in the Jesus Radicals movement. Ekklesia identifies Hebden as a spokesperson of the UK branch of Jesus Radicals. Whilst the Jesus Radicals claim to be Christian anarchists following in the footsteps of Jacques Ellul, a Christian anarchist theologian and French resistance fighter, there is perhaps more here than meets the eye.

Interestingly the USA branch of Jesus Radicals hosted a conference last month in August 2009, where Eileen Fleming was invited to speak. Fleming was banned from the Daily Kos website for antisemitism. However, the Jesus Radicals‘ promotion of Eileen Fleming seems to jar with the Jesus Radicals’ interest  in Ellul and his theology, given that Ellul was awarded the title Righteous Amongst the Nations for his efforts to save Jews during World War II.

Fleming, on the other hand, has marched alongside Holocaust deniers (warning: link takes you to Far Right website of former KKK leader David Duke) Fred Tobin and Michael Collins Piper in Washington:

Perhaps though, the Jesus Radicals were unaware of Fleming’s involvement with the Far Right. Nevertheless, it certainly appears insensitive of the Jesus Radicals to the legacy of Jacques Ellul. Then again, perhaps Christian anarchist theology is moving away from Ellul?

For those new to Christian anarchist theology, Hebden provides this ‘primer’ to Christian anarchism on the UK Jesus Radicals website.

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Filed under anarchism, christian anarchism, Church of England, theology

Robert West wants the BNP to pray for the clergy

Watch Robert West encouraging the BNP to pray for English clergymen here.

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Filed under bigotry, BNP, Church of England

Vicars in a twist?

Arden Forester explains why the press shouldn’t refer to the BNP’s Robert West as a vicar.

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Filed under anti-fascism, bigotry, BNP, Church of England

GAFCON member lectures Church of England on moral investment

Stephen Sizer’s church recently hosted Wallace Benn of GAFCON. Sizer is a prominent GAFCON member, and feels that the Church of England as it stands is morally lacking, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Stephen Sizer recently posted this criticism of Church of England’s investment policy on his blog:

Where is the Church of England’s heart invested?

Indeed, Sizer himself is a member of the Interfaith Group for Morally Responsible Investment (IMRI), of which Interpal is a member.

This is what Stephen Sizer’s morally responsible investment looks like:

A London-based charity set up in the early 1990’s to provide healthcare to refugees in the West Bank, Interpal was investigated by the Charity Commission in 1996 and in 2003 after allegations that it its funds were sent to Hamas, and the current investigation was prompted by a 2006 Panorama programme which reported that some of its funds had gone to Hamas supporters. No evidence however has been unearthed by the Charity Commissioners in support of these charges.

However in 2003 the US and Australian governments banned Interpal followed by the Canadian government in 2006, stating they believed it to be a front organization for Hamas and terrorist financing.

While it could not substantiate these charges, the Charity Commission said Interpal “must disassociate itself” from the Union for Good led by Al-Qaradawi. Its association with Al-Qaradwi, who “promoted violence as a legitimate form of resistance in support of the Palestinian cause” was questionable the commission said.

The Rev. Stephen Sizer, vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water told The Church of England Newspaper, that although he could not speak for IMRI, “for the third time the Charity Commissioners have vindicated Interpal and I am delighted to be associated with their charitable and humanitarian work. “

The inquiry found that “there has been nothing brought to the inquiry’s attention that suggests that the charity’s funding has been siphoned off for inappropriate or non-charitable purposes,” he said. “Please can we leave these folk to get on with their vital humanitarian work?”

And this is Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi:

Perhaps GAFCON members should get their own house in order first, and publicly distance themselves from Interpal and IMRI before criticising the Church of England’s investment policies?

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Filed under Church of England, morally responsible investment

GAFCON member accuses Archbishop of not speaking his mind due to ‘Israeli community’

Last week, the Anglican Consultative Committee proposed an anti-Israel motion, which Anglican Friends of Israel protested.

Now The Jewish Chronicle reports that Archbishop Rowan Williams has intervened to soften the language of the motion, with Canon Guy Wilkinson, the archbishop’s secretary for interfaith relations, assuring those concerned about the new wording:

“It was much more careful in its choice of words than the original resolution. The resolution absolutely does not say that Israel is operating the equivalent of an apartheid state.”

This is not the first time that Wilkinson has had to speak publicly to defend the Church of England’s attitude towards Jews and Israel, following Melanie Philips’ article regarding Stephen Sizer’s anti-Israel activities.

This week, Sizer, a prominent GAFCON member, has posted an interview given to Iranian TV in which he accuses the Archbishop of Canterbury of not speaking his mind on Israel-Palestine.

Watch this section from 2:46-3:51:

Here’s the transcript:

AH: Have we ever had a senior mainstream Christian church leader use the phrase ‘ethnic cleansing’?
SS: No, I’m afraid not, yet.
AH: Do you see that day coming when they will?
SS: I doubt it, to be honest with you. Our Christian leaders in the Anglican, the Methodist, the Roman Catholic Church come under intense lobbying from the Israeli community whenever they speak out on Israel-Palestine.
AH: So are we saying that, let’s even name the office, that the Archbishop of Canterbury might like to say “Yes I do appreciate that the truth of history is that there was ethnic cleansing but it’s too politically dangerous for me to say it”?
SS: Yes, entirely the same reason that you won’t find politicians in office saying the same thing. It’s usually when they retire like Jimmy Carter and others who speak their mind.

Thus a GAFCON member has appeared on Iranian state TV and fuelled the rumour that the Archbishop of Canterbury is controlled by Zionists. I doubt the Archbishop of Canterbury would be too happy with this. Whilst the image of the Anglican Church was greatly improved in Iraq due to the role of Andrew White in helping negotiations between Shi’ites and Sunnis, the image of the Anglican Church in Iran has surely been tainted by the role of Stephen Sizer in accusing the church of pandering to the ‘Israeli community’. Whilst White used his office to bring about peace and reconciliation, Sizer has lent credibility to modern antizionist myths.

So, does Sizer represent the GAFCON position on Zionism?

Surely not.

GAFCON hosted their first international conference in Jerusalem last summer. This was thought to be great news for Israeli-Anglican and Jewish-Christian relations.

So will GAFCON distance themselves from Rev Sizer? And does Rev Sizer think that GAFCON too is under the influence of the Zionist lobby for hosting a conference in Israel?

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Filed under Ahmadinejad's Christian soldiers?, Church of England