The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, bishop of Gloucester, the Church of England’s first female diocesan bishop, said: “I don’t want young girls or young boys to hear us constantly refer to God as he,” adding that it was important to be “mindful of our language”.
She raised concerns that non-Christians could feel alienated from the Church if its public pronouncements used solely male language to describe God.
“For me particularly in a bigger context, in all things, whether it’s that you go to a website and you see pictures of all white people, or whether you go to a website and see the use of ‘he’ when we could use ‘god’, all of those things are giving subconscious messages to people, so I am very hot about saying can we always look at what we are communicating,” she said.
The Rt Revd Dr Jo Bailey Wells, Bishop of Dorking, said the tendency to use male language was a “growing problem” as language use in general became more gender balanced.
The Bishop of Dorking. God love England.
The Church of England is facing a generational catastrophe with only 2% of young adults identifying with it, while seven out of 10 under-24s say they have no religion, research reveals.
C of E affiliation is at a record low among all age groups, and has halved since 2002, according to the British Social Attitudes survey. Far fewer actually attend church services on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, the trend towards a secular society has increased over recent years. The BSA survey found that 52% of people had no religion in 2017 compared with 41% in 2002. However, the proportion last year was slightly down on 2016, when 53% said they had no religious affiliation.
The demographic breakdown in the new data is particularly unwelcome news for the church. Younger people are significantly less likely to identify with the C of E than older age groups, and evidence suggests that people rarely join organised religion in later life. The trend indicates that affiliation with the C of E could become negligible with successive generations.
I’m sure gender-balancing the language will fix the problem.