There is a well-known Christmas charity called Operation Christmas Child or the “Shoebox Ministry,” which was founded and operated by Franklin Graham’s ministry, Samaritan’s Purse. Individuals can donate items such as small toys and basic toiletries and place them in a shoebox — then send them across the globe to children who would otherwise receive nothing for Christmas.
The Becket Fund has awarded the AHA “The Ebenezer Award” for attempting to remove religion from a religious holiday.
The kids are exceedingly grateful for whatever they receive — even if it’s a bar of soap. Operation Christmas Child has become a tradition for many organizations and families. It’s part of a personal celebration of Christmas, an act of generosity, kindness, humanity.
As part of the shoebox gift, Operation Christmas Child also includes Christian information in an effort to share the love of Christ with those who do not know Him. According to its mission statement, “Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.” The group shows people around the world that Jesus loves them by demonstrating compassion.
However — that graciousness is not appreciated by the American Humanist Association (AHA).
In November 2016, the AHA took a suburban school district in the Denver area to court for its support of Operation Christmas Child. The AHA believes encouraging children to pack shoeboxes for other poverty-stricken children in war-torn countries infringes on separation of church and state. So, basically, doing something good because of personal faith is bad. Instead, everyone should simply be good for goodness’ sake. Good grief.
“The American Humanist Association works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans,” the group’s own website says. “The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which — without beliefs in an gods or supernatural forces — encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.”
In response to its Scrooge-like spirit, The Becket Fund, a non-profit and public interest law firm, awarded the AHA its “Ebenezer Award” for attempting to remove religion from a religious holiday.
Christmas is about Christ. People are free to decline wishes of “Merry Christmas!” or respond instead with “Happy Holidays!” or even “Happy December!” as I heard the other day.
For those who don’t want to support a Christian organization because it might spread Christianity, they should by all means give money and time elsewhere. But it is ridiculous to complain about a religious holiday because it is religious.
If a person of any religion or atheistic belief wants to do something philanthropic for others in need, that gift should be appreciated. If a group wants to toss in a brochure about its own point of view, fine. No one is forcing people to do anything or believe anything. Some simply attempt to share the “Good News” that they believe with others by showing love.
The school in Denver was encouraging a volunteer activity that would allow students to give their time and maybe a little money to help those less fortunate. Should we discourage such charity because of squabbling over church and state? Should such good deeds be done in secret for fear of offending others who might disagree?
To me, the issue is a lack of understanding. It is difficult for those who do not comprehend the grace of God to see kindness without strings attached. There’s no ulterior motive to be guarded against, no hidden agenda to fight. It’s plain and simple — as commanded by Christ Himself: Love the Lord your God, and love one another.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control are the fruit of the Spirit. These are supernatural gifts of God.
The AHA may have successfully forced a Denver school to cut its ties with Operation Christmas Child, but they won’t be able to squelch the flame of love and forgiveness as powered by Jesus Christ.
Katie Nations has been married for 15 years and is a working mother of three young children. She lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.