Friday, July 22

Campus Crusade changes name; takes out Christ

Day old news, but I was too busy getting a library card to blog about this. Basically the Christian college organization Campus Crusade for Christ is changing its name to Cru. Why, you ask? Well, why don't we find out from the vice president, Steve Zellers.

"We felt that our name was getting in the way of accomplishing our mission. Our name was becoming more and more of a hindrance. It’s reverted back to some of its meaning related to the Middle Ages – forcing Christianity on different parts of the world,” he said (FoxNews). Nine percent of Christians and twenty percent of non-Christians were "alienated" by the name, according to their research. "We've been having issues with two words in the name -- campus and crusade," said Zellers.

I can see the rationale to drop the "crusade" from the name; as not to associate with the crusades from the Middle ages, but they fail to explain why "Christ" was left out in the cold. You want to disassociate yourself from the crusades? Then don't use an abbreviation of the word as your new name, then take out Christ. And how can the word "campus" cause issues?

The pathetic explanation for dropping Christ was explained in the Huffington Post:
"Cru enables us to have discussions about Christ with people who might initially be turned off by a more overtly Christian name," said Cru's FAQ section. "We believe that our interaction and our communication with the world will be what ultimately honors and glorifies Christ."

Let me get this straight. In order to bring more people to Christ, you are dropping Christ from your name so that people don't think your group is associated with Christ? I mean, what a ridiculous concept, for a Christian organization to have an "overtly Christian" name, right? (Please note dripping sarcasm.) Personally, I don't think tricking people into joining your organization is the best way to spread the Gospel. You say that your communication will be what honors and glorifies Christ? What about the communication to the world that Christ in your name is a "hindrance?"

The 16th verse of Romans comes to mind, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." Note that Paul does not say anything about alienating people because he calls himself a Christian here. Or Luke 9:26 "Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."

Newsflash, if you think changing your name will bring in people that feel alienated by Christianity, then you might want to reconsider your public relations strategy. What an underhanded way to bring people into your organization.

I gave Cru a try back in the day, and I have to say, it was not my cup of tea. That's another blog for another time, but I do feel that a non-Christian would be very alienated by what goes on inside the organization, rather than it's name. I simply don't think it is a very good idea to change the name because a small percentage did not like it.

So many Christian organizations are hidden behind nebulous names such as InterVarsity (I thought it was some sort of intramural tennis club for about a year), Agape, Kairos, Power to Change, Promise Keepers and See You at the Pole (what?). Why not be honest and have an "overtly Christian" name? I'm sorry, but this is just not a good look for Cru. It sends a terrible message to the whole world. A message that says "we are afraid of offending people with the name of Christ." Cru is an internal nickname that works amonst those who were already part of the organization. Cru is not a brand that can carry the organization, or even try to explain what goes on within itself. But Zeller couldn't care less.

“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.” Forcing meaning to a meaningless name? Could there be a more risky PR strategy?

In conclusion, Cru could have easily dropped "crusade" from it's name, and kept Christ. I don't care about their explanation or what really goes on within the organization, it is the public's perception of the change that matters. And so far every single news report has had a negative headline regarding the change. This causes the public's perception of the organization to change in a bad way. There are almost no positive comments on these articles, and that should not surprise anyone. It just looks bad on Cru's part. Cru folded to the pressures of a politically correct world, and took a substantially weak stance. Now they have to clean up the mess and put out a few more hurried "explanations" before they lose all credibility.

P.S. The Lutheran campus organization is called "Christ on Campus." Just saying.

By Aaron Brandt, who was impressed with the Allendale Public Library's collection of "The Book Thief." They had about ten copies.