There’s a brouhaha going on in our Denver metro area over a public charter school that organized a gift drive with “Operation Christmas Child.” The school decided to cancel this year’s project because of concerns from the American Humanist Association.
You can read more about the story here.
I will try to be wise about what I say because some of the parents organizing this drive are from a church that I used to work at. Also, I would like to point out that we as a family have participated in Operation Christmas Child before and it helped to focus our kids on giving instead of getting over the holidays.
Here are some of my concerns with a public school sponsoring a project with Operation Christmas Child:
Our country is based on religious freedom for all religions. In my opinion, this means that we need to create equal opportunity for all religions in the public square. For this reason, public schools stay away from religion because if they go down that road, they have to provide equal access for all religions. For some reason Christians push their religion in public schools, yet don’t provide equal opportunity for Muslims, Jews and Buddhists.
Operation Christmas Child and its parent organization Samaritan’s Purse are unapologetically Christian. Their website states, “Gift-filled shoeboxes are a powerful way to introduce children to God’s greatest gift, salvation through Jesus Christ.” As a follower of Christ I don’t have anything against Samaritan’s Purse. But Operation Christmas Child is clearly evangelistic and to use the secular word “proselytizing.”
Therefore, I don’t think it’s appropriate for a public school to partner with Operation Christmas Child.
This issue is very important to me because we have friends at our daughters’ school who come from different religious traditions. As followers of Christ, we need to be aware of those who view the world differently from us. Fighting for our religious rights and pushing our beliefs into the public schools does not build bridges. If anything it pushes people away from Jesus.
If you want to participate in Operation Christmas Child, join with church members or other believers. Just don’t bring it into the public school. And if you really want to protect your religious “rights,” enroll at Front Range, a great Christian school right up the road in Littleton. They offer an excellent Christian education for elementary and high school students.