A vicar has removed a sculpture of the crucifixion from the front of his church because it was a 'horrifying depiction of pain and suffering' that was scaring off worshippers.
Rev Ewen Souter said the traditional Christian symbol was frightening children and that it would be replaced with a modern, stainless steel cross.
Some of the congregation have reacted angrily to the decision, saying it is another blow to Christian tradition.
One long-standing member of the church, who asked not to be named, said: 'The crucifix is the oldest and most famous symbol of the Christian church.
'Pulling it down and putting up something that would look more at home on the side of a flashy modern shopping centre is not the way to get more bums on seats.
'Next they'll be ripping out the pews and putting sofas in their place, or throwing out all the Bibles and replacing them with laptops. It's just not right.'
Rev Souter said today: 'The crucifix expressed suffering, torment, pain and anguish. It was a scary image, particularly for children.
'Parents didn't want to walk past it with their kids, because they found it so horrifying.
'It wasn't a suitable image for the outside of a church wanting to welcome worshippers. In fact, it was a real put-off.
'We're all about hope, encouragement and the joy of the Christian faith. We want to communicate good news, not bad news, so we need a more uplifting and inspiring symbol than execution on a cross.'
The sculpture by Edward Bainbridge Copnall MBE, a former president of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, was installed onto St John's Church in Horsham, West Sussex, in the Sixties.
It has now been removed and delivered to nearby Horsham Museum, where it will be displayed in its full glory.
Rev Souter, who has been vicar at St John's since 2001, believes the modern new cross - designed by artist Angela Godfrey - will present 'a positive message of hope' on the side of his church.
A spokesman at Horsham Museum said: 'Thanks to the generosity of St John's, we have been given the remarkable sculpture of Jesus on the Cross by Edward Bainbridge Copnall.
'The museum was keen to have the figure because it is a stunning example of Edward's ability and skill as a sculptor.'