The University of Brighton has advised its staff to avoid using the word “Christmas” when communicating with students.
In a new nine-page Inclusive Language Guidance that the university said was prepared with input from staff and students, the word Christmas is deemed to be too “Christian-centric” and could be offensive to non-Christians.
The document sent to lecturers suggests they use the term “winter closure period” when referring to the end of the term.
The guidance was created to encourage staff to abide by the Equality Act 2010, which legally protects people from discrimination.
Graham Nicholls, director of Affinity, a network of over 1,200 evangelical churches and organisations in the UK and Ireland, and pastor of a church in Sussex, told Premier Christian News he found the advice "ridiculous".
"I think on one level it's ridiculous, that even leaving aside anything about offending anyone. The fact is, everyone really knows that this holiday period is connected to Christmas, which is a Christian festival. That's why we're having time off. That's why we're having a break. That's why there are decorations up. So whatever your religious affiliations, to try and airbrush it out, is just laughable.
"Whether it's actually offensive to Christians, I'm not so sure. But turning it the other way. Naming a Christian festival with a Christian name, and a holiday that's associated with it, with a Christian name can't really be offensive to other people of other religions.
"We're not asking anyone they have to celebrate Christmas with us as Christmas."
A university spokesman insisted that the word “Christmas” is not banned on campus, and the guidance suggests alternatives and does not give mandates.
In a statement to Premier Christian News, he said: “This guidance was produced with our staff and students and is part of our shared commitment to making Brighton a place where everyone feels respected and valued. The guidance is exactly that.
“Words are not ‘banned’ at Brighton, and neither is Christmas – as is clear from the decorations and Christmas trees in our buildings and across our campuses.”
The guidance also suggested professors ask “what is your first name?” rather than ”what is your Christian name?”
You can listen to Graham Nicholl's full interview here: