"A crucifix is now just a fashion statement"

He added: ‘For those early Christians it was a badge of shame.

‘Today it is more commonly seen as a symbol of beauty to hang around your neck.

‘As a friend of mine used to say, you might as well hang a tiny golden gallows or an electric chair around your neck.’

In a foreword to a book which will be published in the run-up to Lent next year, Archbishop Welby continued: ‘Are we now living with a symbol emptied of power by time and fashion?

‘Christianity with a powerless cross is Christianity without a throne for Christ or an aspiration for Christians.