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By Amber Randall
Two high-ranking divinity schools asked their professors to use gender neutral pronouns when referring to God.
Vanderbilt officials wants professors to use gender neutral pronouns in an effort to “mitigate sexism,” reports Heat Street.
It is also important, the school’s catalog said, that they refer to God using “inclusive language.”
“This includes consistent attention to the use of inclusive language, especially in relation to the Divine. Faculty, students, and administration will strive to reinforce these values in extra-curricular events and programs,” Vanderbilt’s course catalog for 2016-2017 said.
These standards are based on a 1999 policy, according to the associate dean for academic affairs. The 1999 policy claims that “masculine titles, pronouns, and imagery for God have served as a cornerstone for the patriarchy,” and suggests an “exploration of fresh language for God.”
Professors are able to decide whether they want to adhere to “gender neutral pronouns” in relation to God, the associate dean told Heat Street.
The divinity school at Duke also suggests using “inclusive language” when talking about God. The inclusive language standards were made for people taking summer classes or supplemental ones and who are already employed in the Methodist church, a Duke spokeswoman said.
The guidelines say that God can be referred to as “God” or “Godself.” They also tell professors to not use gender when referring to God at all. It would be preferable to say “God is a parent to us all” rather than referring to him as a “father.”
“Referring to God in gender-neutral language can sound clumsy. But this is largely due to the fact that we are in a transitional period with our use of language,” Duke’s guidelines said. “Imagination, patience, and diligence are required in order to use language that expands and enriches our understanding of God.”