The Methodist Church of Great Britain has released an “Inclusive Language Guide” with a long list of potentially offensive terms Christians ought to reconsider using. “As Christians, we need to have the courage for conversations that can sometimes be difficult, to recognise that we sometimes exclude people, to listen with humility, to repent of any hurtful language and to take care with how we listen and what we say or write, in the Spirit of Christ,” the guide begins. It stated that using inclusive language was a way of being “more aware.” “This guide signposts organisations with specific knowledge and experience of including particular groups of people who have been, or still sometimes find themselves, marginalised or left out of mainstream language,” it added.

The list is divided into sections, beginning with a general section that suggests avoiding terms like “husband” or “wife.” “Terminology such as ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ may sound inoffensive but it makes assumptions about a family or personal life that is not the reality for many people,” it stated. Other sections deal with more specific areas, such as ageism, “anti-racist” language, language for dealing with disabled and neuro-diverse people, gendered language and language on sexuality, mental health, and trauma. For gender neutral language, it recommends avoiding terms that may favor one gender over another, such as terms like “guys” and recommends words like “teammates,” “people,” or “colleagues.” It also recommends avoiding certain gendered phrasing such as “manning the front desk,” which it says can make some people feel excluded. The guide suggests asking for the preferred pronouns of acquaintances and that pastors should give their preferred pronouns. In further sections, it recommends referring to someone as an “enslaved person” rather than a “slave” because “Being a slave is not the essence of a person’s being; they were enslaved by others.” In referencing God, it recommends avoiding words like “encircled” or “embraced” by God’s love as it “may be triggering to people who have experienced intimate abuse.”

The denomination voted to allow same-sex marriage in 2021, becoming the largest denomination in Great Britain to do so. A denomination spokesperson told The Christian Post that the guide is meant to foster relationships within the church.We are proud of our Inclusive Language Guide. It helps the Church hold conversations without making assumptions or inadvertently causing upset,” the spokesperson said. The spokesperson also said that couples married in the church would tell pastors how they would like to be referred to. However, Tory MP Nigel Mills, mocked the guidelines. “All these phrases are perfectly normal, and I can’t see how anyone would be offended by their use.”

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