Various social media users have claimed the Church of England (C of E) will stop referring to God in prayers and remove the use of ‘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.”
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 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, 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 claim that the Church of England (C of E) has said it will stop referring to God in prayers and remove the use of ‘our father’ 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.