As Christian Headlines previously reported, earlier this month, atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation, petitioned a Kansas middle school superintendent to suspend donations to religious-based Operation Christmas Child.
OCC, run by Franklin Graham, delivers Christmas presents in shoeboxes to underserved children around the world. Yet, FFRF argued the donations made by students from Liberty Middle School in Pratt, Kansas, “promot[ed] and endors[ed] Christianity in its schools.”
“The purpose of the shoe boxes is to attract children in the developing world to convert to Christianity,” FFRF Staff Attorney Christopher Line said. “Organizing a donation drive that for all intents and purposes employs school staff and resources to convert people to Christianity violates constitutional principles.”
Superintendent Tony Helfrich agreed with FFRF “upon learning that its mission is more sectarian in nature than we realized.”
Graham expressed his disappointment over the decision on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, saying that he doubted “our country will ever come together.”
“I think we’re so divided now and it’s only going to get worse and the hatred that we see from many…in the public square toward Christians is incredible.”
“I’m not going to back down. I’m just going to keep telling people that God loves them and He cares for them and Christ died for their sins,” he said.
He also encouraged students at the middle school to still send in donations directly to the ministry.
“We don’t solicit necessarily from schools,” he said. “Anybody can participate and what this is, this is just children there at the school that did this on their own and got their school involved.”
In 2013, another atheist group complained about a public school’s involvement with OCC. The American Humanist Association told schools in West Columbia, South Carolina, and Douglas County, Colorado, to withhold donations or face legal action from the group. The schools complied with the demands.
Atheist Complaint Leads School to Stop Filling Shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child
Photo courtesy: Operation Christmas Child Facebook
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Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine.