If you sport a cross in the form of an accessory, a tattoo, or even a statement drawn on the side of your schoolbag in marker, the Archbishop of Canterbury is concerned about your intentions.
Most Reverend Justin Welby reckons that the Cross, deemed to be a badge of shame by early Christians, has been devalued by fashion – namely Italian fashion gods Dolce & Gabbana. Does he have a point about pop culture treating a sacred symbol as the latest hot trend, or is the church making a mountain out of a mole hill?
Fashion has always pulled from religion and other cultural traditions for inspiration. But in the case of Dolce & Gabbana's fabulously gaudy Fall 2013 collection, the history of Italian Catholic art – the intricate detailing of cathedral mosaics, ornate crosses and iconography – is the muse. The design duo are famous for a love affair with Italian culture – of which Catholicism is the heart and soul.
But Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are not alone in objectifying religious symbols and garb in fashion. Riccardo Tisci, the Italian head of creative at Givenchy, believes Catholicism is a part of his DNA – evidenced in monastic and nun-like themes in his collections. Likewise, Donatella Versace showed black velvet dresses embellished with sparkling embroidered crosses for Fall 2012.
Madonna made a career out of her relationship with her faith. From the layered rosary beads and oversized crucifix earrings of the 'Like a Virgin' era, to making out with a 'black Jesus' in the blasphemous 'Like a Prayer' era, the Material Girl's shock tactics shook up the system and garnered much attention for herself, and the church.
It is this season's Dolce & Gabbana gold, jewel-encrusted, door-knocker crucifix earrings – worn by Katy Perry in her latest video 'Unconditionally' – that undoubtedly got the archbishop's goad.
However, counting nearly 20pc of the world population as indoctrinated members, the Catholic Church arguably only has itself to blame for its beloved symbol becoming a fashion statement. The Cross has been propagated as the all-encompassing global symbol of the church for a couple of thousand years. Its assimilation into modern culture as a symbol of rebellion and, ultimately, coolness was inevitable as the church began to lose its control of western civilisation.
How trends put forward by celebrities and designers are interpreted by the masses comes down to habit. Since the early 20th Century, younger generations have looked to throw off the shackles of convention and turn society's mores upside down.
Like the ever-present military chic, Katharine Hepburn's pants of power and the tennis shoes that trickled down from Ivy League universities onto working-class feet, the Cross is just another trend that reflects humanity's forward-thinking attitude.
The timing of the publication of the archbishop's comments in the same week as World AIDS Day is poignant when one thinks of the award-winning 1990 photograph of David Kirby.
This image of an emaciated AIDS victim in his final days being cradled by his already mourning parents, was used in 1992 by Benetton in an awareness campaign. Catholics were enraged at what was perceived to be mockery of the Pieta. In fact, this modern interpretation of an iconic image opened the hearts of many to the clear-and-present human suffering, and changed the face of the epidemic. How can that be a bad thing?
Perhaps the church needs to let go. Dr Rowan Williams, the archbishop's predecessor, said in 2012 that "the Cross itself has become a religious decoration". Dr Williams feels that defenders of the Cross need to rethink a value system that focuses on idolising an object rather than on faith.
Nonetheless, by involving itself in the politics and governing of so many western nations for hundreds of years, Catholicism has ingrained itself in pop culture whether it likes it or not.
One might consider, though, that the Cross has advanced in meaning, rather than being cheapened. The modern interpretation of the crucifix by celebrities, fashion designers and their followers is emblematic of a world evolving beyond torture and prejudice, aiming to be free to be who and what they are, regardless of colour, conviction or creed.