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July 20th, 2011
08:58 PM ET

Campus Crusade for Christ loses the 'crusade'

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)– The massive Christian ministry founded to minister and convert college students around the globe is changing its name.

Campus Crusade for Christ will change its name to "Cru" for its U.S. operations in early 2012, the Orlando-based ministry announced.

The new name was revealed late Tuesday to 5,000 staff members at a conference in Colorado.

Bill Bright and his wife Vonette founded the college ministry in 1951.

Bill Bright talked about his idea for the ministry with a seminary professor one day.  The professor scrawled the name Campus Crusade for Christ on a slip of paper and brought it to Bright the next day, according to Steve Sellers, the vice president of CCC.

"In the very beginning, Bill had discussed the possibility that we would need to change the name at some time," Vonette Bright said in a video posted by the organization. "I believe the time is right to change it."

Bill Bright died in 2003.

Today the group said it has 25,000 full-time and part-time staffers serving in 191 countries.  In the United States alone, staff members work on 800 college campuses, which is still the centerpiece of the organization.

Last year the global nature of the ministry was on display on the world stage when one of their staff members helped the trapped Chilean miners.

Christian Maureira, the head of CCC's Chilean ministry, provided Spanish-language MP3 versions of the Bible to the miners and helped get them T-shirts they wore when they emerged from the San Jose mine.

"Cru" has long been a nickname on the local college level, Sellers said.  The organization spent two years and went through 1,600 options to sort out a new name, he said.

"The word 'crusade' changes over time in terms of its volatility.  Of course everyone remembers back in the Middle Ages when the Crusades came about; of course no one wants to be associated with that," he said.

In the 1950s the word crusade was associated with famed evangelist Billy Graham and mission work.  Today, working on college campus in pluralist situations, the name is often divisive.

"In 2011 it has more of its historic meaning and was becoming more problematic.  So we were having more and more pushback that the name was hindering us from doing our mission, which is not something you want to be true of you," Sellers said.

The organization posted on its website the name change announcement in more detail: "Our surveys show that, in the U.S., 20% of the people willing to consider the gospel are less interested in talking with us after they hear the name."

"They need to emphasize while the name is changed the mission hasn't," said Kristin Cole, a manger of accounts for A. Larry Ross Communications, a top public relations firm in the faith-based community. "Your name it is important, but your mission is even more important."

While many Christian denominations and other ministries have a presence on college campuses, for decades Campus Crusade for Christ has been ubiquitous, with Christian outreach to students both domestically and internationally. But another reason they changed the name was the ministry had grown beyond just college campuses to 29 other areas of ministry.

One of the biggest concerns for the organization regarding the name change was dealing with donors.  The ministry relies on donations for virtually all its operating expenses.

Sellers said support has been good so far from donors on the name change.  "If they think about it, they recognize some of the inherent problems. And what they really care about is the mission that we do, not so much what our name is."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity

soundoff (379 Responses)
  1. Billy cb

    so, you actually caught them in bed?

    October 10, 2011 at 4:57 am |
  2. Howie

    CCC is a cult that preys upon the fringe students and brainwashes them into a lifetime of servitude. When I was at UNH in the 90s this organization was kicked off campus for aggressive recruitment tactics. there are hundreds of well publicized cases of this cult preying upon students who then disavow friends and family, give up all their money, and live like animals in the name of this false god (Jesus is no more false than any other, they are all false gods). If there is such thing as good and evil in this world (which I for one doubt), than this organization and others like it can only be considered evil.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  3. Tony

    Another move to appease Muslims. Christmas will be renamed as it too is offensive...

    August 16, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • Noel

      Exactly right. There was a statement made about the Crusades "nobody wants to be associated with that". Do these people ignore the fact that the crusades were a response to the 800 years of Muslim murder and rampage while spreading their "religion" by the sword? This appeasement crap has gone too far, the multicultural cheerleaders have embraced terrorism and succeeded in making Christians on a par with serial killers. It's crap.

      August 19, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  4. icysilver

    no they left out Christ call it as it is ....

    August 16, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  5. Or How About This...

    This next blurb fits into the topic of Christian Evangelism.

    Romans 6:23
    "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord."
    Since we're in "college discussion" mode, let's analyze this scripture:

    The wages of sin is death. Any flaunting atheist will tell an evangelical christian "I love my sin. I'm having fun in my sins. Leave me be, you crazy fanatic." I've experienced this comment first hand multiple times, and even expect it after posting this comment. I've accepted that sin is straight from man. I'm a great sinner, it's what I do best, and I can do it at any time, because I'm human and no better that you reading this, your neighbor, President Obama, WHOEVER. Man sins. Period.

    But my sin has a price tag.

    I don't like paying that price.

    We see things in our world like AIDS, terrorism, and many other things that compile our list. These are a by-product of sin, the results of choosing our own plan instead of God's plan.

    The Gift of God [for those who feel God is some fairy tale bearing no interest in their life, this one's for free: God has given you a gift.] is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.

    With repenting of sin(the rejection of God's will and the pursuit of other things), you inheirate God's gift of eternal life. Security for eternity and a new vitality in existance. your life redeemed, no longer needing to hold on to the hurts of humanity and reality.

    Cleanliness.

    This campus ministry promotes this Gospel. There's no forced conversion.

    Every hospital offers medicine to those who need it. wheter or not the patient accepts it is their choice.

    Make sure you make the right choice of remedy for your life: Jesus Christ

    August 15, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
  6. pat carr

    Ah Chri$tianity. The best B$ that money can buy. Prai$e Je$u$ chri$t!!

    August 15, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • LetsAllJumptToConclusions

      Tell that to churches in Ethiopia and China.

      August 16, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  7. Michael

    Only God is able to convert the soul, through the preaching of the gospel of His free unmerited grace, through the Lord Jesus Christ and His blood which was shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.

    August 15, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      Confused...which god...there are many

      August 15, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • pat carr

      May the flying spaghetti monster have mercy on your Eat-ternal Sole!

      August 15, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  8. Michael

    No matter what the name of the organization, if they are preaching a false gospel of will worship, let them be accursed.

    August 15, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  9. Adam F. Kohler

    The begining of the end

    August 15, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  10. Apeasant

    I am a theist. I'm positive theres something more out there than we will ever know, and that needs to be respected. But Christian organizations are no more interested in that than McDonald's is interested in serving the perfect hamburger.

    Organized religion thrives upon fear and provides a community to comfort against the fear. The fear can be anything, and a lot of times its totally made up (degrading culture, uppity minorities, heretical ideas, etc). The problem is, that with so much information and so much history of fraud and abuse, organized religion looks shady.

    There are plenty of spiritual young people with morals and values, as there are plenty of young people without them. But the history of religious organizations and their impact on society is pretty clear. Changing a name won't hide that past.

    August 13, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • V01D

      "There are plenty of spiritual young people with morals and values, as there are plenty of young people without them"

      I really hope you aren't equating spirituality with morality and ethics. The two do not go hand in hand and are entirely independent of one another. There are ethical and nonethical people, their personal spiritual beliefs or disbeliefs have no bearing on their morality.

      August 14, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Lloyd Gallant

      This is truly a shame. I don't know which is more disappointing- your dropping of Christ's name from your organization or your transparent rationale that it's "crusade" you're concerned about. So you join the growing list of once-vibrant-now- apostate groups that litter the sides of the narrow and rocky road.

      August 15, 2011 at 1:43 am |
  11. RC

    With 2Live headlining!

    August 13, 2011 at 1:55 am |
  12. RobynH

    I get it. You are rebranding a failed product.
    Like when you call a steaming pile of fetid feces a daisy patch.
    Truth in advertising, that's what you need to avoid.

    August 11, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  13. logikflux

    Religious groups going to colleges to prey on young students lonely and separated from their family. This is disgusting, and cultish.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • Ari

      Absolutely correct! These are cults, there is no doubt in that.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Or How About This...

      A college ministry that spreads the Gospel of Jesus Christ should not be labeled as a cult in comparison to a legion of liberal college professors who want to transform the minds of fresh college students to become heartless, over-thinking machines used to promote what they have been trained to worship as the greatest thing yet to come- themselves.

      After seeing many people enter college with a faith in Jesus and see them become atheist toward the end- or heck, even in the beginning stages of their education, I am glad to see that there are still people willing to go against the grain of our New Age/Athiest/Agnostic/Whatever culture and sow the seed of the hopeful Gospel of Jesus Christ.

      For every atheist that may be reading this entry, consider the Gospel's message: the pain that cripples the soul, the addiction that can't be solved by human tactic, the purpose that cannot be found in the world's promises, where have you found the full-out remedy so far? The world promises a remedy, but when the time comes to get that remedy for yourself, where's these prominant resources?

      Christ offers us this. That is the hope of the Gospel. Christians don't want your money- at least the ones who care more about the detrimental things, like your eternal destination. Jesus despised sales gimmicks, religious people, organized traditions, the overly insighted who were to smart for God, and the skeptical, not because He was a mean dude but because He knew these mindsets would prevent theem from ever getting to know Him.

      With that said, perhaps it isn't a coincidence that you read this comment on CNN's Belief Blog. Mabey Jesus has an appointment for you to know Him. Perhaps there is a crusade in line against the hardship of your soul, the problems that kill your joy, love, and peace. "For those who recieved Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become the children of God." John 1:12

      If your a Christian in college, stand firm, get radical, and be a testimony. Show your campus who Christ really is: one who is true to His Word.

      August 15, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • fritz

      Don't forget predatory. Christian folks count on people's tendancy to be gullible.

      August 16, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Or maybe it's more like...

      College educated people become smart enough to realize they've been duped all this time by false god(s) and dogma and leave a church they can no longer rationally believe in.

      August 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  14. Stargazer

    So, they're still on a crusade; they're just changing the name to cover it up a little better. Sounds insidious to me.

    August 6, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  15. Fin

    EXACTLY!!!!

    "QS

    "The massive Christian ministry founded to minister and convert college students around the globe..."

    That's the first line of this article....and it's really all I needed to know...that regardless of the name they choose, their mission is one of self-righteousness, as it tends to be with most religious people who think it's their obligation to make more people believe as they do."

    August 4, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Bibletruth

      I dont see any wording about their mission being self rightousness...It is plainly stated that their mission is to evangelize and convert.

      August 7, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • gozer

      "convert" implcitly says that something is wrong with the current beliefs, or lack thereof, of the latest "mark" for these religious god-fraud sellers, whether "crusade" is in their name or not. That is self-righteous, and arrogant.

      Take your awful religion, and shove it.

      August 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Mark

      So what? Isn't it a freedom to go around campaigning for any religion you want (or any party to vote for)? No one's forcing anyone to do anythng. If you don't like it, treat them like pesky salesmen: "I'm not interested, go away". Done.

      August 9, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  16. JIm

    RANT on the CRU name change on my blog: http://streamofjim.blogspot.com/2011/07/campus-crusade-is-devil.html

    July 30, 2011 at 7:25 am |
  17. ChurchSalt.com

    Is it just me, or is the word that is totally gone the name of Christ?
    It looks to me that in an effort to be trendy, they have dropped the only name under heaven by which men might be saved. But the name of Jesus isn't too cool these days, so I guess it is better to cut Him out rather than look archaic. How transparent... and how sad!

    July 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • Phil in Oregon

      This after He warned us that those who won't confess his name(Jesus) before men, neither would He mention their name to His Father.

      July 31, 2011 at 12:32 am |
    • Billy

      Threats and extortion? How loving!

      July 31, 2011 at 12:38 am |
    • malasangre

      i see the first crusade the same as the present day occupation. zealots taking land from a helpless population. how am i wrong.

      August 7, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  18. jim campbell

    I don't think renamimg the organization to "Cru" makes any sense...why not "Campuses for Christ"?

    July 25, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • Jonathan

      They do a lot of things beyond colleges now, so "campus" is also sort of obsolete.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  19. petercha

    I just can't believe that they had to change the name because some whiny people didn't like the word "crusade". Way too many people are way too hyper-sensitive nowadays.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      I agree, I think they should choose a name that offends the maximum number of potential converts. Who needs more whiny Christians anyway?

      July 26, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • malasangre

      they say they are ashamed of the original crusades but only keep that part?

      August 7, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  20. janna

    FRAN\K you have 'not" read Josh Mcdowels "EVIDENCE THAT DEMANDS A VERDICT' " had you read it you would have tried to dispute one of the hundreds of facts that have franklly been indisputable..also . this book is not for casual reading , but for the intelligent seeker who cannot by any means find anythng in the book that they could honestly dispute., There have been been a great many accounts of attorneys who have studied the New Testament against Josh book to find holes and arguments but could not find any!!!,, as a matter of fact these very same attorneys found themselve turning to Christ for salvation having found the truths to be undeniabe and powerful '. I dare any one out there to go to the library or Borders bookstore and just peruse and see what I mean .. its incredble,. the next book following this one is called THE CASE FOR CHIRST by a former athiest who was also a minister at Willow Creek church in BArrington Ill,, another mind blowing life changing book..

    July 25, 2011 at 1:23 am |
    • say

      There's a critique here. http://www2.islandnet.com/~luree/evidence.html
      Read with an open mind.

      July 28, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • Daoud

      @janna, no offense but apologetics did nothing for me except to reveal how much more Christianity is absurd than I was thought to believe. If you cannot prove the divinity then you haven't proven anything.

      August 6, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • malasangre

      Einstein was an atheist until he heard a young child playing a violin one day. that only proves his own faith.

      August 7, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • V. Cameron

      Janna,
      I have met many like you brain washed, who worship these gods like Josh , and Bill Bright. The triuth in Jeusus own words is " That whosoever will be ashamed of my name, I will be ashamed of him in front of my father. We ourselves 25 years ago caught a Campus Ministers wife fornicating with another man, and today they live in a million dollar mansion atleast , listed in the internet as paying the highest taxest taxpayers, in this large city. So go your merry way , Josh will save you , his book will.

      October 9, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.