Canadian province ditches Operation Christmas Child

Canadian province ditches Operation Christmas Child December 1, 2017

Schools in Newfoundland and Labrador have withdrawn support for a campaign which gives schools and individuals the opportunity to fill a shoebox with small gifts to send to children in need in more than 150 countries.
The reason? According to this report, Operation Christmas Child is way out of step with policies of inclusiveness adopted by the province’s education authorities.
District trustees recently passed a motion during a public meeting to end any provincial school participation in the programme after issues were raised about the policies of Samaritan’s Purse, the group that runs the campaign.

Said Director of Education Tony Stack, above:

This organisation is on record with its statement of beliefs that it requires its coordinating volunteers to sign statements of faith that are in direct conflict with our inclusive philosophy, particularly as it pertains to the LGBT community.
For example, a child with two moms or two dads unfortunately has been put in the position of choosing between fitting in and partaking with other classmates in an activity, or supporting an organisation opposed to the very existence of that very child’s family unit.

In May, 2016, it was reported that Kay Cossar, a Burgeo woman was denied a volunteer position with Operation Christmas Child because she wouldn’t sign a statement of beliefs confirming that she didn’t believe in same-sex marriage or a woman’s right to have a legal abortion. Cossar said she believed OCC was all about children and generosity and kindness but discovered that:

It it isn’t really. It’s about adults and their antiquated points of view.

Stack said the policies of Samaritan’s Purse were in direct conflict with the board’s Safe and Caring Schools policy, and that trustees felt there were many other charities that schools could be involved with that would be much more in step with it.
Stack said there has been virtually no opposition from school staff or students about ending participation. But there have been some nasty calls from the public.

Some of these reactions have been, frankly, explicitly homophobic. So there’s a disturbing element to that.

Writing in 2015 for HumanistLife, Emma C Williams said:

Operation Christmas Child is run by Samaritan’s Purse, a huge and zealous organisation led by Franklin Graham, son of the famous evangelist Billy Graham. Not only is the organisation openly homophobic, it seeks to proselytise in a manner that most people, including liberal Christians, find unacceptable.

As a humanist, I am naturally disquieted by the idea of people performing evangelical work with the intended purpose of conversion; but I am positively offended when this work is performed at the expense of vulnerable children in desperate situations across the globe.
Several other charitable organisations and reputable businesses, including the Cooperative, have withdrawn their support for Operation Christmas Child. The charity Save The Children has questioned its effectiveness and expressed concerns about the use of evangelism in the context of people in need.
Some leading teachers’ Unions, including the NASUWT,  have pointed out the difficult position that schools are placing themselves in when they support such charities without giving careful thought to their stated mission.
But despite all of this, hundreds of schools will still take part in Operation Christmas Child this year, unwittingly supporting the work of a right-wing evangelical organisation, with little or no idea of what it stands for.

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  • barriejohn

    The NSS publicised this article on their site only yesterday:
    A spokesperon for Samaritan’s Purse says:
    We always serve these children without any strings attached.
    Where appropriate, children receiving gift-filled shoeboxes are also offered a copy of The Greatest Gift booklet. This booklet gives children receiving shoeboxes the opportunity to know more about Jesus, and about Christmas, just like we do here through nativity plays, carol concerts and the like.

    Very revealing.

  • Robster

    Wholesale, industrial scale indoctrination, with lipstick on.

  • Lucy

    ‘Where appropriate ‘ ? When would it ever be appropriate and how do they judge? Arseholes.

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    It’s sad if children worldwide don’t get help but this indoctrination has to end. It is quite obvious that the organisation doesn’t care about the children, all it’s interested in in proselytising.

  • Broga

    There is nauseous Christian approach to much of the help they give. They make oleaginous comments about their righteous intention to help while the not so hidden agenda is to indoctrinate the recipients as a condition of giving. They are, in their shameless way, ready to inflict themselves on young children.

  • tonye

    I think both sides come out of this smelling bad.
    Samaritan’s purse for, as usual, trying to indoctrinate the next generation with their hateful and poisonous views.
    However, especially at this time of year, it’s unfair for Stack to talk about being inclusive when his belly will be full on xmas day.
    Some of these kids have less than nothing.
    Here is a simple solution that I’m sure that I’m sure will keep both sides happy. A nominated teacher ensures the shoes boxes are sealed, without leaflet, before departure, and can only be opened at the other end. Simples.
    Compromise is not a bad thing.

  • Stephen Mynett

    OCC was exposed a few years back when a letter written to an American Christian supporter was leaked, in the letter they confirmed all children were given the booklet.
    They have consistently lied about what is given out and sending sealed boxes will not stop the problem. Many boxes from the UK have been sealed for years, I know people who were taken in by OCC but that did not stop booklets being attached or just given out with the boxes.

  • Angela_K

    @tonye. The boxes do not remain sealed. Many are opened by OCC to ensure there is nothing inappropriate put inside. Mustn’t have a copy of “The god delusion” falling into the hands of children, they may learn some facts.

  • tonye

    @Angela K and Stephen Mynett,
    Many thanks for the additional info.

  • barriejohn

    I find this quite depressing, as it’s such a good idea, which has really caught on in America, and there are loads of videos online showing the obvious joy of children opening their boxes, but if anyone doubts the motivation of Graham and his pals, they need only look at this very short video posted by Samaritan’s Purse:
    Once again, Christians show how to mess up big time!

  • Ate Berga

    Love the word “oleaginous”, Thank you @Broga.

  • Broga

    Ate Berga : Thank you. It does seem to describe the holier than thou tone of many Christians.

  • barriejohn