As I reported yesterday, the two voting houses of the US Episcopal Church’s 2018 General Convention concurred upon and adopted Resolution A068, beginning the revision process for the Book of Common Prayer (the liturgies, Psalms, rites, etc.) to include, among other things, gender—inclusive language for “humanity and divinity” (God).
But there is another resolution that also displays the status of having been concurred upon by this year’s General Convention, a resolution which should be receiving far more attention: Resolution D067 Bias-Free and Expansive Language for God and Humanity.
Why is Resolution D067 deserving of far more attention? In essence, this resolution imposes codes upon written communications… from the top, all the way on down to your own congregation.
♦ Resolution D067 begins with a statement of belief (emphasis mine):
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention acknowledges as has the Society of Biblical Literature Book of Style, that “bias-free language respects all cultures, peoples, and religions” and encourages the use of inclusive and expansive language for both God and humanity…
[Note: The Society of Biblical Literature holds yearly conferences with the American Academy of Religion. At the last conference, held in November of 2017, Religion News reported that “Trump was named in the AAR/SBL program 27 times. A book of essays, Faith and Resistance in the Age of Trump, was among the hottest sellers at the religion publishers’ exhibition hall.” Linda Sarsour, a radical Palestinian activist was one of the conferences featured speakers.]
♦ Resolution D067 functions as an exhortation to the entire church body, including humanitarian organizations affiliated with the Episcopal Church.
The Resolution states (emphasis mine):
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention urges that the Executive Council, the Office of General Convention and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society give priority to using these guidelines in all published communications; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention exhort dioceses, congregations, institutions, and organizations affiliated with the Church to follow these guidelines in all published communications.
♦ So, exactly what are the precise rules for language to which your diocese, your congregation is being exhorted to adhere?
As Resolution D067 states, with specificity:
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention in the spirit of effective evangelism and proclamation of the Gospel affirm the use of “bias-free language” defined by the principles below:
- Eliminate the perception of conscious or unconscious bias by the distracting use of biased language when not central to the meaning of the text.
- Avoid the generic use of masculine nouns and pronouns which is increasingly unacceptable in current English usage.
- Avoid the use of language that perpetuates stereotypes based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.
- Avoid the assignment of gender to God, except when required by the text.
- Respect all cultures, peoples, and religions by sensitivity to the uncritical use of biblical characterizations such as “the Jews” or “the Pharisees” that can perpetuate religious and ethnic stereotypes.
- Structure sentences to communicate clearly while using gender-neutral language, for example:
- Omit the pronoun.
- Repeat the noun.
- Use a plural antecedent.
- Use an article instead of a pronoun.
- Use the neutral singular pronoun “one.”
- Use the relative pronoun “who.”
- Use the imperative mood
Consider for a moment what forms of communication are considered published, such as your local church’s website, or even your priest’s electronic newsletter.
Forget the prayer book. That’s small fries!
Rather, it appears as though the ideological appetites of the church’s benevolent leaders who sit perched high upon a mound of self-righteous manure, will never be satiated until each congregation joins their unholy cause with complete conformity to this man-made philosophy of fools.
If you currently attend an Episcopal church, now is the time to respectfully, and with love, ask honest questions and to discuss your concerns with your minister and the vestry and your fellow congregants.
As always, I continue to pray, with deep and abiding love, for my Baptismal church – the Episcopal Church.