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Leading Scandinavian church votes to use gender neutral terms when referring to God

Jasmine Andersson November 24, 2017

New archbishop of the Church of Sweden Antje Jackelen attends her installation mass at the Uppsala Cathedral, on June 15, 2014. The Lutheran Church of Sweden elected on October 2013 a woman as its leader for the first time in the institution's history. AFP PHOTO / TT NEWS AGENCY / Pontus Lundahl ++ SWEDEN OUT (Photo credit should read PONTUS LUNDAHL/AFP/Getty Images)

A decision has been made by a leading church in Sweden to use gender-neutral terms when referring to God.

The Church of Sweden, which is the most popular religion in Sweden, said that it would opt to use the terms after an eight-day meeting with its official body.

“Theologically, for instance, we know that God is beyond our gender determinations, God is not human,” leader of the church, Archbishop Jackelen said to Swedish news agency TT.

The leader added that gender-neutral terms had first been discussed in the socially progressive country in 1986.

The move means that the church, which has 6.1 million followers, and was formerly a state church, will remove the words “he” and “Lord” from their services, hymns and publishings.

And the Evangelical Lutheran church, headquartered in Uppsala, will also update its 31-year-old handbook in response.

Christer Pahlmblad, an associate theology professor with Sweden’s Lund University has publicly countered the move, stating it is “undermining the doctrine of the Trinity and the community with the other Christian churches”, according to Premier.

“It really isn’t smart if the Church of Sweden becomes known as a church that does not respect the common theology heritage,” Pahlmblad said.

Sweden became one of the first countries to add a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary.

The gender-neutral term “hen”, joined “han” (he) and “hon” (she) in 2015.

The term came into popular use in the 2000s as a more accessible term for the transgender community.

“For those who use the pronoun, it’s obviously a strength that it is now in the dictionary,” said one of the editors, Sture Berg, to AFP.

Images: Getty

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