It’s now November and December is almost here. And as it’s almost Christmas, I’ve decided to do the 12 days of Blogmas on my blog. My first one here is all about Operation Christmas Child and how I cannot support it.
So what is Operation Christmas Child. It’s ran by a charity known as Samaritan’s Purse and every year they get people to get a shoebox and fill it up with different items, mainly toys and send them out to kids in places such as Africa. Many of you will be familiar with the shoebox, especially if you have kids as many schools take part in it.
So why am I against it? It’s a very good question. So before you start assuming I am some nasty person who doesn’t believe in helping people, you may want to read more into the charity that runs it. My problem is not with the idea of giving. I think that sending a box full of toys to kids is a really nice idea. My problem is with the people behind it.
- Franklin Graham, The Man In Charge
Samaritan’s Purse is ran by a man called Franklin Graham. Son of the famous evangelist Billy Graham. Franklin Graham is well known for his homophobia and being anti LGBT. I’m LGBT myself and find Graham’s views hateful and disrespectful. In America a bakery in Oregon refused to carry out services for a lesbian couple. Graham raised money to support this particular bakery. Samaritan’s Purse also gave financial support to the campaign against marriage equality in America. And this is even before you get onto Graham’s views on gender. It was also him who said that ‘Christians’ should boycott the store Target after they made their toy department gender neutral. Did I even mention that Graham is a huge supporter of Trump.
The purpose of Operation Christmas Child is to convert the child who receives the gift and their families to Christianity. Their mission statement says that ‘every gift filled shoebox is a powerful tool for evangelism and discipleship.’ Religious literature is put into the box of the language the child speaks. The UK representatives of the charity insists that spreading the word of God is nothing more than a small booklet with Bible stories in it. If you actually look at the literature Samaritan’s Purse distributes it has a clear message to convert the young.
And it’s Graham’s version of Christianity that is pushed on these kids – Fundamentalist and conservative.
In America the evangelism in the charity is more open, but in the UK it is not the case as it is deliberately not promoted. Many volunteers are well meaning but are unaware of the true nature of it all. Here is a statement from the charity itself.
‘Please be assured that the commitment of Samaritan’s Purse to evangelism is as strong as ever. … However, there is a difference in the way the boxes are processed in the UK for overseas shipment. The UK program removes all religious items … and forwards any Christian literature to our National Leadership Teams working in countries where shoebox gifts are distributed, so the Christian literature can be used with children. … The Gospel is also presented locally as part of the distribution of the gifts, and wherever possible, children are offered a Gospel storybook written in their own language called The Greatest Gift of All. Many children are also invited to enrol in a 10-lesson follow-up Bible study program, and upon completion receive a New Testament as a graduation gift.’
Evangelism is more widely accepted in America and the message is better understood by volunteers and people donating to the charity. Here in the UK many have this idea that if they can’t see it, it doesn’t go on. Yes, it does.
Fundamentalist Christianity is toxic and harms many people, especially kids who have grown up in Fundamentalist homes and have moved away from it. The message it essentially gives off is – Hey kids, hope you’re enjoying your boxes, but guess what this year why not accept Jesus into your life. Because if you don’t you will be burning in hell for eternity. Merry Christmas kids.
Graham and his version of Christianity is poisonous and goes completely away from the good message of the gospel.
3. Racism and Xenophobia
Graham is well known for his anti immigrant and Islamophobic views. In 2015 he proposed a ban on Muslims entering America. Remember Trump and his refugee ban. Graham supported that. Sure, he wants you to send a box full of toys to refugee kids but he wouldn’t want them and their families in America. People fill a shoebox up because they want to help kids in those countries. But Graham cares nothing about those kids. He wouldn’t want those kids and their families coming to America for a better life.
Just take a look at the official shoeboxes, Operation Christmas Child distribute. Many people send their own shoeboxes but the charity does provide thier own. They have these really awful charactures of kids in different countries. How many kids in Mexico do you see walking about the place in sombreros. The kids in those countries look nothing like the drawings on the boxes.
And most importantly are the alternatives. If you really want to help kids I would suggest not supporting Operation Christmas Child and instead consider other good causes. One of the ones here in Cardiff is the Toy Appeal By St Davids. You get a toy, drop it in the box and the toys get sent to different kids in South Wales.
Link To Hope is a Christian organization that send shoeboxes to Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Moldova. This charity doesn’t have the fundamentalist message that Samaritan’s Purse does and it isn’t ran by some homophobic Trump supporter. They also don’t put religious literature in their boxes.
The Rotary Club also has a shoebox scheme too. Check it out here
South Wales Fire Service and Oxfam are not supporting this organization. DHL withdrew their support and even Christian organizations and individual Christians themselves are not supporting Samaritan’s Purse because due to the nature of it’s message. These and many more do not support Operation Christmas Child, I don’t either. Supporting this charity means supporting Graham’s ministry. Operation Christmas Child in my view is unnecessary as other charities do very similar work but with different intentions. So if you must sent a shoebox off, consider taking it to one of the other charities. Instead of Operation Christmas Child, I choose to support other good causes.