The Rev. Franklin Graham reacted to a Kansas middle school’s decision to sever ties with his charity project, Operation Christmas Child, and expressed doubt that “our country will ever come together.”
“We don’t solicit necessarily from schools,” Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, said on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” Friday. “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.”
The atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation had sent a complaint letter dated Nov. 3, to Superintendent Tony Helfrich, urging the district to take “immediate action to cease promoting and endorsing Christianity in its schools.” FFRF specifically cited Liberty Middle School, based in Pratt, Kansas, where morning announcements often include references to Jesus and Operation Christmas Child is promoted.
After contending that the Samaritan’s Purse website states that “the purpose of the shoe boxes is to attract children in the developing world to convert to Christianity,” FFRF Staff Attorney Christopher Line argued that “organizing a donation drive that for all intents and purposes employs school staff and resources to convert people to Christianity violates constitutional principles.”
In response, Helfrich sent a letter to FFRF explaining that the district was discontinuing the collaboration with Operation Christmas Child “upon learning that its mission is more sectarian in nature than we realized.”