Fact Check: Church of England NOT Dropping 'God' for Gender-Neutral Terms -- The Issue Is Being Studied

Fact Check

  • by: Jennifer Dobner
Fact Check: Church of England NOT Dropping 'God' for Gender-Neutral Terms -- The Issue Is Being Studied Still 'God'

Will the Church of England halt the use of male pronouns, stop using the term "God," and drop the phrase "our Father" from the Lord's Prayer in favor of more gender-neutral language? No, that's not true: The press office for the Church of England told Lead Stories the church has been exploring the use of gendered language in relation to God since 2014, but has no plans to drop the term. The church planned to launch a new study project on the issue in the spring of 2023.

The claim appeared in a post published on Instagram on February 7, 2023. It includes a photograph of a church sanctuary and a link to a web story about the purported decision. The post opened:

FALLING AWAY: Church of England embraces a "Gender Neutral God" Will stop using male pronouns and referring to God in prayers, Will drop the phrase 'our Father' from the Lord's Prayer. #churchofengland #fallingaway #doctrineofdevils #apostasy #genderneutralgod #lastdays #daysoflot 🚩 Check out the entire story by clicking the link above found in the "Latest News" section

Here's how the post appeared on the day of writing:

Screen Shot 2023-02-08 at 10.17.27 AM.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Wed Feb 8 17:11:27 2023 UTC)

Lead Stories reached out to the Church of England for a response to the claim.

"We are definitely not stopping using the term 'God,'" said an email to Lead Stores from the church press office on February 8, 2023.

The claim stems from a question-and-answer session during the faith's annual General Synod meeting, in which the leaders of the Liturgical Commission were asked about progress toward more inclusive language and options for those wishing to "use authorized liturgy and speak of God in a non-gendered way," the email explained.

The launch of a joint gendered language project by the church's Liturgical Commission and the Faith and Order Commission was announced in response to the inquiry, the email stated. The project will run for five years, according to the email, which also noted that the Liturgical Commission has been considering the question of gendered language since 2014.

The role of the Liturgical Commission is to prepare forms of service for the church. The Faith and Order Commission advises the faith on theology, according to the email from the church press office.

"This is nothing new," said the church's email to Lead Stories. "Christians have recognised 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."

There is no current plan to abolish or substantially revise current authorized liturgies, the email said, and "no such changes could be made without extensive legislation."

The Church of England's announcement has been widely reported (here, here and here) and includes similar church statements that debunk the claim. Even the story that links from the post undermines the post's claim that a change is decided. The story notes only that the church "could" refer to God in non-gendered terms and that changes would require the entire General Synod to agree.

The Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church, is the English national church. Its roots trace back to the arrival of Christianity in Britain during the second century. It is also the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion, representing 85 million people in more than 165 countries.

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  Jennifer Dobner

Jennifer Dobner is a Salt Lake City-based journalist with more than two decades of reporting experience. Jennifer has worked as a staffer for The Associated Press, The Salt Lake Tribune, San Diego Union-Tribune and Idaho Falls Post-Register. As a freelancer her work has been published by The New York Times, Outside Magazine Online, Reuters, Cannabis Wire and others. Jennifer’s documentary film work includes the international award-winning 2018 film Church & State and 2021’s award-winning Anchor Point.

Read more about or contact Jennifer Dobner

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