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Schools warned against supporting Operation Christmas Child

Schools are being warned not to support the Operation Christmas Child appeal run by an evangelical US charity Samaritan’s Purse, which unbeknownst to many parents uses donors’ gifts to evangelise to vulnerable children, after it emerged that more schools are collecting donations for the scheme.

Operation Christmas Child sends shoeboxes full of toys, books, and other shiny presents to vulnerable children in Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe. But alongside the packages put together by schools, the charity also adds religious literature which aims to convert children to Christianity.

Today it has emerged that several schools in Colchester have collected hundreds of shoebox donations worth thousands of pounds which will be used for the scheme. It has prompted a warning by Humanists UK for schools and other well-meaning individuals to be aware of the charity’s questionable activities.

In previous years, the head of the charity, Reverend William Franklin Graham III, has gone on the record as being racist and homophobic and has described homosexuality as an ‘abomination’. He also said Muslims ‘should be barred from immigrating to America’ and called on Christians to convert Muslims.

Humanists UK’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson said:

‘This scheme has a questionable history of luring charitable people to donate to a cause that targets vulnerable children who have faced war, poverty and other terrible tragedies and gifts them with shiny toys alongside leaflets that tell them they must follow the teachings of the Bible.

‘We urge schools and other individuals to avoid this U.S. evangelical charity and instead donate to a reputable and transparent charity which only has the intention of spreading joy and goodwill at Christmas and helping children in need.‘

Humanists UK has drafted a template letter addressed to schools highlighting what their donations are contributing to and urging schools to reconsider their support for the scheme. The letter can be downloaded at humanists.uk/ethical-appeals

It says causes such as Aquabox and Link to Hope (itself a Christian charity) also run similar shoebox appeals, but with no ulterior motive. Other charities like Plan UK, Oxfam, and Children Need all have Christmas appeals.

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For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3078 or 07393 344293.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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