A Cru-dely named student organization

If a German student union formed on a university campus, it would never be called “Campus Holocaust.”

That name would be atrociously insensitive. Also, the Holocaust does not exactly evoke a sense of pride in Germans, which is understandable when you consider the horrors we associate with that period in history.

Ultimately, naming a group “Campus Holocaust” would offend a whole mess of people (and rightfully so).

Why, then, are so few people up in arms about Crusades being used in the name of the international Christian group, Cru?

Cru is the official, abbreviated version of Campus Crusade for Christ — a religious group which has something called a “campus ministry” on UW-Eau Claire’s campus. This is essentially an on-campus manifestation of the larger group.

Now, before you slam me saying I made a false analogy between the Holocaust and the Crusades, here is my stance on genocide.

You simply can’t make a value judgment on whether one genocide — Crusades, Holocaust or otherwise — is worse than any other genocide.

Yes, the Holocaust was devastating, but the Crusades weren’t exactly a picnic, either. Genocide is genocide. “Campus Holocaust” and Campus Crusade are the same type of historical appropriation.

Calling an organization “Campus Crusade for Christ” (which is how they refer to themselves on their website) clearly indicates members will go crusading around college campuses, and the idea of that is terrifying when you delve into what the Crusades actually were.

Flash back to the 11th century, and you’ll find Christians engaging in what they still believe was a “holy war” to rid Islam from their land.

The techniques used to claim land during this time of Christian imperialism included stripping the Muslim people of any non-Christian paraphernalia they possessed, telling them to embrace Christianity and pillaging their city even if they agreed to submit.

If the locals did not submit, there were a couple of tactics crusaders had in their back pocket to deal with that, such as raping them, murdering them and burning down their village.

Honestly, I would really love to have a campus that didn’t look that grim.

Obviously I don’t think a literal, murderous crusade is what Cru sets out to create; that would be a ridiculous accusation. The only thing I think the group itself is guilty of is not paying attention to the historical significance of their name.

For some reason, in our Christian-centered society, the Crusades are remembered romantically, and I can think of few historical events that deserve a memory like that less.

According to Cru’s website, there is another interesting facet to the story of their name: they’ve been asked to change their name before.

In 2011, the group officially became Cru in America, though Campus Crusade for Christ is still the full name of the international organization.

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem like much of a name change to me. I can pretty clearly tell that Cru is still just a shortened form of crusade.

I know, there’s really no getting past me.

For all intents and purposes, the group’s name didn’t really change, but the significance of the attempted name change shouldn’t be overlooked.

Clearly Cru knows there is something wrong or disrespectful about their name if they were willing to “change” it in the first place.

Why go for the sort-of name change? Why not rid yourself entirely of the cultural baggage associated with the Crusades? Why not call your group something more inviting, like
“Jesus Fiesta?”

The final verdict: almost there, Cru. Try again.