Kansas School Cancels Operation Christmas Child Event After Complaint from Atheist Group

Operation Christmas Child, the annual holiday outreach event organized by Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse, shipped off more than 60,000 shoeboxes for young survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, at JFK Airport’s Hangar 19 in New York City. | The Christian Post/Scott Liu

A Kansas school has canceled its participation in Operation Christmas Child after an atheist group wrote to the school district alleging that the program “violates basic constitutional principles.”

The annual project is sponsored by the Christian nonprofit Samaritan’s Purse, through which shoeboxes filled with gifts are sent to children in more than 160 nations.

Liberty Middle School must “cease participation in Operation Christmas Child or taking any other actions promoting Christianity like including religious references over morning announcements,” the atheist legal group, Freedom From Religion Foundation, wrote to Tony Helfrich, the superintendent of Pratt School District, claiming “many egregious constitutional violations [are] occurring” at the school.

“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 in a Nov. 7 response letter to FFRF.

“A lot of these groups rely on school authorities being ignorant about their mission,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in response to Helfrich’s decision. “We appreciate how swiftly the district discontinued the fundraising after our alert.”

Samaritan’s Purse is led by the Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of the late evangelist Billy Graham. When children worldwide receive the shoeboxes filled with toys, they also hear the Gospel message and receive a booklet that teaches them about Jesus Christ.

In a recent interview with The Christian Post, Billy Graham’s grandson, Edward Graham, said shoeboxes filled with gifts were reaching more children and unreached people with the Gospel than the massive global evangelistic events his grandfather held over decades.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Anugrah Kumar

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