The Church of England should avoid only calling God “he”, a bishop has said, as a survey found that young Christians think God is male.
Research by YouGov found that almost half of 18-24 year-old Christians believed God to be male, with just one in three over-65s believing the same.
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.
“When I lead prayers or preach, I try to get around the problem by using both male and female imagery, and also by avoiding the need to say ‘his’ or ‘him’ too often,” she said, adding that she doesn’t “avoid male language altogether”. More on the Telegraph.