Campus Crusade for Christ’s name change controversy

Campus Crusade for Christ announced last month that the organization will be changing its name to Cru. Cru has been its nickname on college campuses for years. It’s easier to say and let’s face it, who wants to be associated with the Crusades?

Some people have taken offense to the name change. Glenn Beck did a segment called “Campus Crusade for Christ drops Christ from the title.” He claimed the name change was a cowardly move. He said the reason for the change was that some people might be offended by Christ. If only Glenn Beck would do a bit of reporting, he would find that Christ was not the problem with the name.

The obvious reason for the change is the offensive connotation of the word crusade. Why was that name ever a good idea? Merriam-Webster defines crusade as “a remedial enterprise undertaken with zeal and enthusiasm.” I’m sure that’s what founders Bill and Vonette Bright had in mind when they started Campus Crusade for Christ in 1951. Humanity is fallen, sinful and depraved, in desperate need of remedy. Christ is the remedy. College campuses are the perfect location for an enterprise undertaken with zeal and enthusiasm. Campus Crusade for Christ makes sense.

But what most often comes to mind with the word is The Crusades: bloody military campaigns fought by Christians against Muslims in the 11th-13th centuries. Not a very positive connotation. Cru is not violent, it is not an attack and it is not meant to force Christianity on anyone.

Polls showed that 20% of spiritually open people were less interested in talking after hearing the name Campus Crusade for Christ. When your goal is ministry and outreach, you don’t want to start off with a name that is off-putting.

The word campus is also no longer accurate. While campus ministry is a big part of Cru, there are numerous non-college ministries under the international organization. It makes sense to change the name to fit this broader spectrum.

Glenn Beck said that by taking Christ out of the name, Cru no longer has an effective ministry. That’s just plain silly. A visit to their website, chat with any of their staff members, or a personal experience with the ministry will prove that they are undoubtedly focused on spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And as  others have pointed out, plenty of effective Christian ministries have not had the word Christ anywhere in their names. It’s not a requirement. In fact, the earliest followers of Jesus in the New Testament called themselves “The Way.” They went with a vague name and others outside the church were the first to dub them “Christians.” John Piper’s post on the issue offered other defenses why subtlety does not imply unfaithfulness to the message.

I was personally involved with Cru at Mizzou throughout my time as an undergrad. It was always called Cru and there was never a question that the ministry was about Jesus. I cannot say enough about the impact Cru had on me or the impact I witnessed it have on countless college students.

Some donors have withdrawn their financial support from Cru as a result of the name change. They should prayerfully reconsider. It’s their loss: God promises to bless those who give. I’m not worried about the ministry of Cru. I know it will continue to grow and touch lives. Happily, God doesn’t consult Glenn Beck when He decides who and what to support.

About Nicole

Daughter of God, wife, mother, volunteer youth leader, substitute teacher, aspiring writer, rabbit owner, nature lover. These are some of my titles.
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3 Responses to Campus Crusade for Christ’s name change controversy

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good story, very thought-provoking. I probably would have had a different opinion on the topic had I not first heard it from this article.

  2. Nicole says:

    That’s what I worry about. When people hear the story from certain sources, they get a very slanted picture of what’s actually happening. People who use religion primarily for their political goals or as a way to get attention seem all too willing to sell you down the river if it will make a catchy headline and get people all irritated. In this case, the truth is easy to hunt down, and the truth is that Christians who oppose Cru because of this are fighting against a very genuine ministry partner. Whether due to misinformation or bad judgment, it’s just a shame.

    I just read the Washington Post coverage. It is very good: detailed and balanced.

  3. Fleastiff says:

    I had no inkling that Cru was some sort of diminutive moniker for Campus Crusades for Christ. The reason given, abhorrence of the word crusade seems a bit strange and certainly belated but its about as good a reason as any other. So what is the big deal about it?

    The exotic spices Europe wanted were from Islamic controlled territory. The Crusades were thinly disguised attempts to break the monopoly under the guise of some religious motive. Many of the religious orders that supposedly maintained roads to the Holy Land and ransomed travelers were quite similar to the Somali clans of today that hijack ships and then have representatives who intercede for the safety of the crew. Its a charade for kidnappings, nothing else. So what is so revolting about the crusades? Europe learned a great deal of military knowledge about static fortifications but failed to make sufficient inroads into the spice trade monopoly.

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