Institutional deafness? Archbishop, NO!

Posted on June 25, 2013



The new leader of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Justin Welby, coined a clumsy phrase on Thursday last week when, in a speech to activists in London, he asked the church to do away with its image of having ‘institutional deafness’.

His definition of institutional deafness, I suspect, is a large organisation ignoring what people tell them. He’s saying that there is a perception that to be part of the Anglican church is to routinely ignore what the rest of society thinks. But that’s not deafness.

Maybe he means ‘institutional selective hearing’ or ‘institutional covering your ears and saying ‘la la la’  because deafness and ignorance are different things. He’s apparently a smart chap and knows the difference; maybe he thought no one was listening.

Given the average age of worshippers and the many Anglican missions for the deaf worldwide, there are going to be quite a lot of genuinely deaf people in the Anglican institution anyway – no clever speech writing is going to change that.

So please, Archbishop, if you mean ignorance, don’t say deafness. We don’t really want your new phrase catching on.

By Andy Palmer, The Limping Chicken’s Editor-at-Large. 

Andy volunteers for the Peterborough and District Deaf Children’s Society on their website, deaf football coaching and other events as well as working for a hearing loss charity. Contact him on twitter @LC_AndyP (all views expressed are his own).

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