Anti-Israel Bigotry Unfortunately Alive and Well

Stand for Israel  |  September 10, 2019

Father Vladimir Tobin
Father Vladimir Tobin

While those of us who stand for Israel have grown used to the world’s anti-Israel stance, that doesn’t mean it’s not shocking when it occurs. A recent instance of this anti-Israel bias happened in Canada, when an Orthodox priest was fired for praying for Israel and condemning anti-Semitism. Emily Jones at CBN News reports on this travesty, and how The Fellowship and other advocates of religious freedom are speaking out against it:

Father Vladimir Tobin, the head priest of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Church in Halifax, was told he must leave the church due to the “Jewish twist in your ministry…”

Tobin’s grandmother was Jewish but he was baptized into orthodox Christianity. He earned a doctorate in Egyptology at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University in 1985. He recently visited Israel in May for the first time since he graduated more than 30 years ago.

During his time in ministry, Father Tobin refused to ignore the anti-Semitism he saw in the church.

“I was happy in Orthodoxy, but felt there was some anti-Jewishness there. I wrote a piece for publication, but was told by my superiors that it was ‘too Jewish.’ That increased my determination that Christianity grew from Judaism. My own theology recognized a faith that started with Abraham and grew through the centuries through Christ,” he said.

Father Tobin received a letter from Archbishop Irénée in April telling him to resign after hearing complaints that he regularly prayed for Israel during his church services.

But Father Tobin did not back down and responded to the archbishop by writing: “It is true that I regularly pray for both Israel and United States, its armies and its president, and for ‘the land of Israel and the armies which protect her.’ What is to prevent us for praying for other countries that need it? The U.S. and Israel are our allies and need our support for peace in the Middle East. There are precedents of praying for other nations within our tradition. My prayers are mainly intended to advance peace in the Middle East…”

Mrs. Yael Eckstein, President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, praised Tobin for standing up to Christian anti-Semitism.

“God bless this courageous priest. In case you’ve ever wondered whether the work of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is important, this is exhibit A. Anti-Israel bigotry is unfortunately still alive and well in certain far corners of Christianity. The bridge between Christians and Jews that we have been building for thirty years is nearly built – mainly, because of hundreds of millions of evangelicals – but there is still more work to do.”