Nashville - In the old translation of the world's most popular Bible, John the Evangelist declares: "If anyone says, 'I love God', yet hates his brother, he is a liar." Make that "brother or sister" in a new translation that includes more gender-neutral language and is drawing criticism from some conservatives who argue the changes can alter the theological message.
The 2011 translation of the New International Version Bible, or NIV, does not change pronouns referring to God, who remains “He” and “the Father”. But it does aim to avoid using “he” or “him” as the default reference to an unspecified person.
The NIV Bible is used by many of the largest Protestant faiths. The translation comes from an independent group of biblical scholars that has been meeting yearly since 1965 to discuss advances in biblical scholarship and changes in English usage.
Before the new translation even hit stores, it drew opposition from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, an organisation that believes women should submit to their husbands in the home and only men can hold some leadership roles in the church.