A stained glass window depicting Jesus Christ crucified on the cross.
A stained-glass window depicting Jesus Christ crucified on the cross. Image by Dave Hunt/AAP IMAGES

Church gender claim is far from the gospel truth

William Ton February 13, 2023
WHAT WAS CLAIMED

The Church of England (C of E) has said it will drop ÔÇÿour father' from prayers and remove references to God.

OUR VERDICT

False. The C of E said there is 'emphatically' no plan to change liturgy or authorised forms.

Various social media users have claimed the Church of England (C of E) will drop references to God and ‘our father’ as Christianity grabbles with the issue of gender.

Some posts even claim the alleged changes are the result of demands of transgender and non-binary worshippers.

Variations of the claim have been made in numerous posts in recent days. Many appear to have taken information from an article by Russian news agency Sputnik, which was headlined “C of E to drop ‘our father’ from prayers to appease trans and non-binary churchgoers.”

People praying
 Social media posts claim our father will disappear from prayers. 

See examples here and here.

Other posts (see here, here and here) link to a misleading article from the End Time Headlines website, which carries the headline, “Church of England embraces ‘Gender Neutral God’ Will stop using male pronouns and referring to God in prayers, Will drop phrase ‘our Father’ from the Lord’s Prayer”.

However, these claims are false.

The C of E has not dropped references to God or banned ‘our father’ from The Lord’s Prayer. Nor has it announced any proposal to, with a representative telling AAP FactCheck there is “emphatically no plan” to revise liturgy or authorised forms.

He added that while the C of E had been examining the use of gendered language in relation to God for several years, there was “absolutely no plans to abolish or substantially revise currently authorised liturgies” and that any changes would need “extensive legislation.”

The claim has its origin in a question from this month’s General Synod, the national assembly of the C of E, that considers and approves changes affecting the entire church.

Members of the Church of England's Synod in London
 The General Synod of the Church of England in central London on February 9. 

During the session, Rev Jo Stobart asked the Liturgical Commission for an update on steps it had taken to develop language for those who wanted to refer to God in a non-gendered manner (page 20).

The commission’s vice-chair Rev Michael Ipgrave responded, saying the board had been “exploring the use of gendered language in relation to God for several years”.

“Changing the wording and number of authorised forms of absolution would require a full Synodical process for approval,” Mr Ipgrave said.

The C of E confirmed that the Liturgical Commission has asked the Faith and Order Commission, which advises it on theological matters, to explore such issues further over the next five years.

The C of E added that it had been “regularly considering these questions since 2014” and “Christians have recognised since ancient times that God is neither male nor female”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
 The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during a visit to Perth in 2022 

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, told an audience in 2018 that God is neither man nor woman.

“God is not a father in exactly the same way as a human being is a father. God is not male or female. God is not definable,” he said.

The Verdict

The claim that the Church of England has said it will drop ‘our father’ from prayers and remove references to God is false.

The C of E has said there is “emphatically no plan” to revise liturgy or authorised forms. The claim has its origins in a recent question to the General Synod on examining non-gendered language in reference to God.

False The claim is inaccurate.

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