The Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) emphasizes the difference between traditional religious practices in the past and how newer Christian clubs, like CRU Downtown, an Arizona State University religious organization, have changed the mentality of worship.
Today, the Christian organization is present in more than 190 countries. CRU was originally founded in 1951 at the University of California, but has since spread across the country to further college students. At ASU, it is located at the downtown Phoenix campus and goes by “CRU Downtown.”
In 2011, the organization changed its name from Campus Crusade for Christ to “CRU,” causing a portion of its sponsors to withdraw their support in an outrage.
CRU Downtown’s mission statement is, “We are not about a religion, we are not about an agenda, but we are about real people with real questions, seeking real answers.”
ASU students on any campus are welcome to join their community, even if they are not strictly practicing it traditionally. To be a “follower of Jesus,” by CRU’s definition, is to use high morals and the religion as a support system in life.
It is not about memorizing Bible verses as previously done in the past with others.
Individuals from all different backgrounds and social statuses are raised to believe in a certain religion or no religion at all. Religion is a subject that has been passed down from generation to generation for centuries.
Later in life, often times the individual will change their beliefs or not even practice it any more. World religions, including Christianity, have always had the reputation of being very proper rather than focusing on the moral reasons to be worshiping.
Taylor Warren, 21, president of CRU Downtown, believes many hold to traditions rooted in past cultures, rather than being foundational Christians.
“The Traditional verses Contemporary debate is a matter of personal taste, but if you take it too far, on either spectrum, it becomes something different,” he said.
Warren has been a Christian for 19 years, but only a practicing one since his high school years. He says every individual needs to make the choice to follow any religion or none at all.
The members of CRU Downtown attend Mass at several locations in Phoenix including Phoenix First, Newman Center at ASU and Open Door Fellowship Church.
The concept of organized churches is not the main focus of the group — human spirituality is. The club consists of members from various states, denominations of Christianity, socioeconomic statuses, races, etc.
“One thing I believe is that we are supposed to interact with people on their own terms.” Warren said, “with that in mind, it is easy to see how a contemporary approach is a healthy morphology in the Church.”
Society today is more culturally sensitive, while the Christianity legacy is noted by tradition. Some contemporary practices, such as slightly changing the dialogue of the peace offering in Mass, test the limits of widespread belief, whereas others may overstep their boundaries.
Each generation of Christians has been influenced by the cultural values which surround them, therefore, it is plausible to see “traditions” as “contemporary” in their day.
“The only requirement to be a Christian is to believe that Jesus was who he said he was and the explanation of what aligning your beliefs in this way will look like,” Warren said.
• Sarah Stecko is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.