The school nativity play may never be the same again. After 2,000 years, anything you have ever heard about the Three Wise Men was dismissed yesterday. In an amazing coup for the politically correct lobby, Church of England bosses declared the three may have been women.
And so as not to offend, the visitors will now be referred to with the nongender specific “magi”.
The Church has astonishingly stated in a committee report “that the visitors were not necessarily wise and not necessarily men”.
The committee report obliquely states it is “very unlikely” the magi were women but the possibility “cannot be excluded completely”.
As a result the General Synod has now ruled that the term “magi” should be employed rather than “wise men from the East” as in the King James Bible.
The visitors who followed a star to visit the newborn baby Jesus have been celebrated by Christians for centuries.
Most ancient writers agreed that there were three wise men.
Over time they became known as the Three Kings – Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. Caspar was thought to have brought the Christ child frankincense for divinity, Melchior gold for kingship and Balthazar myrrh for humanity.
In countless Sunday schools across the county, children have always played the distinguished present givers with bushy fake beards, dressing gowns and a tea towel as headgear.
Next year they may have to rethink the outfits and include a dress, after the Church of England’s incredible pronouncement.
Members of the Church Committee have complained that this linguistic quibble is symptomatic of an obsessive regard for political correctness and a desire to “avoid upsetting the feminists”.
A spokesman for the Church, which is currently involved in a bitter worldwide rift over the inclusion of homosexuals in the clergy, has admitted it is nervous about using sexist language.
However, the Rev Robin Dodge, Associate Vicar of St Mary Redcliffe’s church, said he was happy with the term magi.
The clergyman, who came to Bristol 18 months ago from Washington DC, defended the decision saying,”God cannot be contained in a box.” “I never describe God as ‘He’ in my sermons”, he continued. “God is neither male nor female. When people hear the term magi they can draw their own conclusions and use their own imaginations. It’s not about being politically correct.”
The Rev Dodge did admit he would probably not try to confuse young children with the gender ambiguity implied by “magi”.
And other Bristol clerics weren’t too concerned about the fate of the nativity play, pointing out “there will be places where there have already been female magi”.
They agreed it would make very little difference to the average Christian. And as one cleric said: “Anyway, magi for anyone who knows their Latin is a masculine plural – so they’re not that clever are they?”
• Five reasons why the wise men were probably women:
• The gifts were perfectly wrapped . . . and they weren’t bought from a garage
• Their robes were neatly pressed
• They were late getting to the manger
• The camels were badly parked outside the stables
• They needed a star to guide them because they couldn’t read the map.