The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) put an early end to Liberty Middle School’s Operation Christmas Child program – a project organized by Samaritan’s Purse that allowed students at the school fill shoeboxes with Christmas gifts for underprivileged children living in oppressed and embattled nations around the world.
Message to students: It’s wrong to bless
FFRF staff attorney Chris Line managed to intimidate and misinform Pratt Unified School District Superintendent Tony Helfrich to cease the toy drive taking place the school located in Pratt, Kansas, claiming it was unconstitutionally inviting students to collude with Christian evangelism.
“Organizing a donation drive that for all intents and purposes employs school staff and resources to convert people to Christianity violates basic constitutional principles,” Line argued in his letter to Pratt. “It is inappropriate for public school teachers to use their authority to encourage students to donate to religious groups.”
The major objections FFRF has with the Operation Christmas Child is that the boxes include a booklet with a Christmas-themed gospel message, and that it is part of the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse – a Christian nonprofit organization led by Billy Graham Evangelist Association President and CEO Franklin Graham.
“The FFRF continues … its mission against organized religion … by preventing toys from being shipped to various children around the world for Christmas,” the Western Journal reported. “One thing that Liberty Middle School and the FFRF fail to realize, however, is that atheist groups like the FFRF are not impartial – they have their own set of values and principles and [are] forcing them on others while preventing Christians and other religious groups from being afforded the same opportunity.”
FFRF insists its own mission of rooting God out of public schools and subverting or secularizing the message of Christmas is a noble cause.
“While it is laudable for a public school to promote student involvement in the community by volunteering and donating to charitable organizations, the school cannot use that goal as an avenue to fund a religious organization with a religious mission,” FFRF expressed in its letter. “Certainly, there are other secular nonprofit organizations that offer charitable opportunities.”
This unsubstantiated claim and humanist advice aimed at secularizing America’s youth was heeded and embraced by the public school superintendent, who caved to being bullied by the atheist group.
“Regarding our students’ participation in ‘Operation Christmas Child,’ we are discontinuing that effort upon learning that its mission is more sectarian in nature than we realized,” Helfrich wrote to FFRF in a Nov. 7 letter.
FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor applauded Helfich bowing down to her organization’s atheistic agenda.
“A lot of these groups rely on school authorities being ignorant about their mission,” Gaylor proclaimed in a news release issued by her group. “We appreciate how swiftly the district discontinued the fundraising after our alert.”
But cutting Operation Christmas Child out of the school’s Christmas was not enough, as FFRF threatened that any mention of the God of the Bible on school grounds is an offence that will be punished.
“[Liberty Middle School must] cease participation in Operation Christmas Child or taking any other actions promoting Christianity like including religious references over morning announcements,” FFRF’s letter to Helfrich added, noting that “many egregious constitutional violations [are] occurring” on the middle school campus.
Many children’s only hope and blessing on Christmas …
According to Operation Christmas Child Vice President of Programs and Government Relations Edward Graham – grandson of the late Rev. Billy Graham – the “shoebox ministry” has had a greater outreach to children than his iconic grandfather’s decades of preaching the message of Jesus Christ across the globe.
“More kids have heard about Christ through these shoebox distributions than ever heard about Christ in stadiums with my grandfather,” Graham told The Christian Post in an interview.
To date, underprivileged children from more than 160 nations – four out of five nations on Earth – have been touched with Operation Christmas Child’s shoebox blessings, which have been collected from churches and schools annually and distributed by Samaritan’s Purse to millions of youth across the globe.
Copyright American Family News. Reprinted with permission.