The governing body of the Church of England is considering the possibility of referring to God in gender-neutral rather than masculine terms.
But the church’s decision-making body says that while it’s been exploring that issue for years, no immediate changes are on the horizon. The church said it would launch a new commission examining the matter in the spring.
Any changes to prayers, traditions, or doctrine would have to be approved by the General Synod, the legislative arm of the Church of England, which debates and votes on budgetary matters, doctrinal issues, and other regulations.
The question of gender-neutral terminology to refer to God was raised during a meeting of the General Synod earlier this week. The Rev. Joanna Stobary, the vicar of Ilminster and Whitelackington in South Somerset, asked about where the church stands with regard to adopting ”more inclusive language,” reports the UK-based newspaper The Guardian.
In response to Stobary’s question, Bishop Michael Ipgrave, the vice chairman of the church’s liturgical commission, said the question was already being studied, referring to the upcoming commission examining the use of gender-specific language when referring to God.
To no one’s surprise, social conservatives have become enraged and pushed back against the very idea of changes, seeing it as an attempt to appeal to “woke” secular culture.
The Rev. Dr. Ian Paul told The Telegraph that any such adoption of gender-neutral terms would constitute an abandonment of Church doctrine.
“The fact that God is called ‘Father’ can’t be substituted by ‘Mother’ without changing meaning, nor can it be gender-neutralized to ‘Parent’ without loss of meaning,” Paul said. “Fathers and mothers are not interchangeable but relate to their offspring in different ways.”
A spokesperson for the Church of England downplayed the alleged controversy over the proposal, implying it does not amount to the kind of “culture war” issue that those on the far-right — both inside and outside the church — would like to portray it as being.
“This is nothing new. Christians have recognized since ancient times that God is neither male nor female, yet the variety of ways of addressing and describing God found in scripture has not always been reflected in our worship,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “There has been greater interest in exploring new language since the introduction of our current forms of service in contemporary language more than 20 years ago.
“There are absolutely no plans to abolish or substantially revise currently authorized liturgies, and no such changes could be made without extensive legislation.”
Jinkx Monsoon, a world-renowned drag queen and two-time winner of the hit show RuPaul's Drag Race, is calling attempts by Republican-led legislatures to ban drag shows in public places or classify them as adult entertainment "hypocritical."
In an interview with ABC News last week, Monsoon criticized attempts to restrict drag performances -- either by prohibiting them in public or requiring venues hosting such performances to classify themselves as "adult-oriented businesses," with the aim of either discouraging venues from allowing drag shows or forcing them to operate under the radar and out of sight of the public.
Last week, the student body of Wellesley College voted to allow transgender men and nonbinary individuals to apply to the all-women's college.
The referendum, which was non-binding, passed, although the college did not elaborate on what the margin of victory was.
The college has roughly 2,500 students, but has no data on the number of students who identify as transgender or nonbinary.
Regardless of the result, administrators at the college refused to change the college's admissions policy.
Under the current policy, adopted in 2015, the college accepts applicants who "lives as a woman and consistently identifies as a woman," regardless of their assigned sex at birth. However, some students who identified as women when they first enrolled may no longer identify as female.
At least a dozen anti-LGBTQ bills that gained traction in the Virginia General Assembly in this year's now-concluded legislative session ultimately failed to become law after the House and Senate split along partisan lines when it came to backing or defeating said bills.
Republicans, who control the majority in the House of Delegates, pushed a number of bills seeking to restrict LGBTQ rights or limit LGBTQ individuals' freedom of expression; proposing bills to "out" transgender-identifying students to their parents; bar transgender athletes from competing in sports that match their gender identity; and ban gender-affirming care, not only for minors, but some legally recognized adults in their twenties.
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