Church in Australia Removing References to Christ, Steering Clear of Religious Symbols?

The Uniting Church's logo still features the 'cross of Jesus Christ' to symbolise that people are 'bound to Christ and each other.'(Facebook/Uniting Church in Australia)

The third largest church in Australia is reportedly shying away from any references to Jesus Christ and supposedly also steering clear of religious symbols as part of its rebranding and new advertising strategy.

Australia's Uniting Church adopted a new public relations strategy scrapping faith-based language, primarily to distance itself from allegations of child sexual abuse that has tarred the reputation of religious institutions, the Herald Sun reported.

Peter Worland, executive director of Uniting, which acts as the services and advocacy arm of the church, acknowledged these changes.

"You are right to highlight that sometimes we do not mention Christ's name in our advertising," Worland was quoted by the Herald Sun as saying. "Since the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, faith-based organisations like ours are perceived pejoratively. So, sometimes we are overt with our religious language, sometimes we are not."

He nevertheless said the Uniting Church is not entirely abandoning religious symbols. For instance, he said the new logo still has a crucifix in it.

Uniting Church President Stuart McMillan however denied that his congregation is removing references to Jesus Christ and other religious symbols.

He maintained that on its website, the Church clearly states that "Christ invites us to serve humanity by creating an inclusive, connected and just world."

"The explicit Christian commitment to people in the care of Uniting Church agencies remains the same as it has for the last 40 years. Our Church, since its beginning, has borne witness to a unity of faith and life in Christ which transcends cultural and economic, national and racial boundaries," McMillan said in a separate report from The Daily Mail.

He added that the changes in the church's public relation strategy were not because of recent child sex scandals.

"This decision was taken to ensure that awareness of our services reaches more of the vulnerable and disadvantaged people we seek to serve," he said.