Campus Ministry Drops 'Christ' from Name
One of the nation’s most prominent Christian ministries has decided to take Christ out of its name – a move that has generated cries of political correctness from within the evangelical community.
Campus Crusade for Christ International announced this week that it will change the name of its U.S. Operations to “Cru” in early 2012.
“We felt like our name was getting in the way of accomplishing our mission,” said Steve Sellers, the vice president for Campus Crusade, noting that the ministry will still be committed to “proclaiming Christ around the world.”
Sellers said researchers found that 9 percent of Christians and 20 percent of non-Christians were alienated by the name Campus Crusade for Christ.
The organization was founded in 1951 by Bill and Vonette Bright and today has 25,000 staff members serving in 191 countries. Bright died in 2003, but his widow offered support for the name change in a video posted online.
“When Bill Bright started the organization, he told his wife that someday they would have to change the name,” Sellers said. “As early as the late '70s and '80s he was looking at making the name change.”
Sellers said several factors were involved in the name change – including overseas sensitivities.
“Our name was becoming more and more of a hindrance,” he told Fox News Radio. He specifically mentioned the word crusade.
“It’s reverted back to some of its meaning related to the Middle Ages – forcing Christianity on different parts of the world,” he said.
As for removing Christ from their name, the Campus Crusade for Christ website states:
“We were not trying to eliminate the word Christ from our name. We were looking for a name that would most effectively serve our mission and help us take the gospel to the world. Our mission has not changed. Cru enables us to have discussions about Christ with people who might initially be turned off by a more overtly Christian name. We believe that our interaction and our communication with the world will be what ultimately honors and glorifies Christ.”
But that decision has created controversy within the evangelical Christian community – some taking to social networking sites and the organization’s website to voice their displeasure.
“Take Christ out, and you become just another crusade,” one critic wrote on the Campus Crusade website. “How repulsive can you get?” Another person wrote, “We are both appalled that you think you have to remove the name Christ from your name.”
“It is sad that an organization like Campus Crusade at least appears to have allowed themselves to be taken by the politically correct environment instead of acting counter culturally as Christ’s followers are called to do,” said Richard Hornsby, of Kansas City. “For an institution like Crusade to appear to cave to the same cultural pressure that leads school principals to harass or try to ban Christian groups from meeting on campus is incredibly sad. We expect the ACLU to intimidate small towns and schools by threatening to sue them. We don’t expect long-standing pillars of the Christian community to fold like this.”
Hornsby was actively involved with Campus Crusade at The Ohio State University when he was a college student. He said he was surprised by the name change.
“I immediately thought of Paul’s letter to the Romans, ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,’” he said. “It may be that CCCI has good intentions behind the change, but on its face, this decision to drop ‘Christ’ seems like an attempt to hide or mask the core identity of the group.”
But Sellers defended the removal of Christ’s name from the title – and denied that political correctness was involved.
“It has nothing to do with political correctness,” he said. “It has everything to do with how we can be effective at what God has called us to do.”
“Most churches don’t have Christ in their name,” he said. “Hardly any other Christian organization has Christ in their name. People are making an issue out of something that isn’t the intent at all.”
Sellers said it is “more important that the organization is effective at proclaiming Jesus than it is important to have the name of Jesus in the name of the organization.”
And he stressed that the mission of the organization has not changed.
“We are an evangelistic organization that is committed and has been committed and will be committed to proclaiming Christ around the world,” he said.
The new name, Cru, has long been used as a nickname for the organization on university campuses. Other than that, Sellers said Cru does not have a definition.
“Much like lots of brand names they don’t necessarily have meaning in and of themselves,” he said. “It is a name we intend to give meaning so that when people hear it they know that it’s a caring group of Christians who are passionate about lifting up the name of Jesus.”
This word "crusade", I think, makes all of us recall the ruckus President Bush (W) stirred up when he used the term in addressing the nation following the 9/11 attacks. He said: "this crusade, this war on terror is going to take a while." [Click here for transcript.] At the time of hearing his speech, I didn't even flinch at the word, interpreting the word as I think most people use it today: a heroic, monumental undertaking, campaign or struggle.
"Since Cru began as a nickname at the local level in the mid-90s it has taken on much of the positive equity of the organization without any of the negatives," the organization said in a FAQ posted on its website. "Like Google, Starbucks, and other abstract names, we expect to fill Cru with meaning as it embodies all that we are as we go to the world with the gospel."
Campus Crusade is not the first organization to distance itself from the term. In 2000, Wheaton College removed its Crusader mascot and eventually became the Thunder. Only this year, the school unveiled a physical mascot, "Stertorous 'Tor' Thunder," a 2-person mastodon costume weighing 99 pounds (the largest mascot in the NCAA). In 2002, evangelist Billy Graham began using the word "mission" to describe what he always called "crusades." His son Franklin Graham and evangelist Luis Palau call their gatherings "festivals," while Greg Laurie uses "crusade."
So, how does Merriam-Webster define "crusade?":
But, Bush's use of "crusade" unleashed a firestorm of political correctness. Here's a brief history lesson on it from Wikipedia in its entry of "Tenth Crusade":1: any of the military expeditions undertaken by Christian powers in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries to win the Holy Land from the Muslims2: a remedial enterprise undertaken with zeal and enthusiasm
Examples of CRUSADE
The use of this figure of speech was criticized in Europe, and Arabic-speaking countries. Supporters of the President's usage of "crusade" argue that from context Bush had used the word in a military, non-religious sense, such as "The Great Crusade" which was the phrase used by General Dwight D. Eisenhower to describe the D-Day invasion of Europe to the Allied troops in his order of the day broadcast.Who knew such a tiny, two-syllable word could ignite such an explosive
They point to many modern dictionaries which define crusade (not capitalized) to include any vigorous action aimed at achieving a particular noble goal. However, particularly in predominantly Muslim parts of the world, the term crusade produces the same sort of negative reaction as the term jihad does in much of the West.
Tenth CrusadeIn the September 7, 2002 issue of CounterPunch, columnist Alexander Cockburn authored an opinion column titled "The Tenth Crusade" in which he numbered the conflict to follow nine medieval Crusades. In a Newsday article issued December 4, 2003, political commentator James Pinkerton cited two intermediate wars also called "Tenth Crusade." Pinkerton's renumbering of the conflict as the "Twelfth Crusade" has been overshadowed by references to the title of the Cockburn column. Cockburn is thus usually credited with coining the term, which is almost exclusively used by critics of the US operations.